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Comelec’s credibility on the line

Already under fire for glitches that cast doubts on the credibility of the mid-term elections, the Commission on Elections needs to tread cautiously before deciding on the fate of the Duterte Youth chairman who wants to be a party-list lawmaker.

Comelec’s credibility  on the line

The controversy revolves around Ronald Cardema, whose only claim to fame was to face down an outspoken critic of the Duterte administration in 2018. For this act of “bravery,” the leader of the Duterte Youth was made the chairman of the National Youth Commission.

In his short stint there, the NYC managed to gain the attention of the Commission on Audit, which asked the agency to refund the national government more than P800,000 that were paid out as monetized leave credits and travel expenses.

With an eye on higher office, Cardema resigned as NYC chairman to represent the Duterte Youth party-list group in the mid-term elections, filling in as a “substitute” for his wife.

Over the protests from several groups, the Comelec on June 4 approved Cardema's last-minute bid to become the party-list group's nominee in the 2019 elections, with five commissioners voting in favor of the petition, one dissenting and one abstaining.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, the lone dissenter, said the poll body will still need to rule on Cardema’s qualification, which is a separate matter.

Oddly enough, it is on this very question that groups had argued against Cardema, 33, saying he violated the Party-List System Act as he was over age limit of 30 to become a party-list nominee for the youth sector.

Against such a clear restriction in the law, were the other Comelec commissioners who voted for the last-minute substitution simply currying favor with Malacañang by letting Cardema’s clear lack of qualification slide?

In the meantime, more groups have come forward to protest what is patently and obviously a mockery of the party-list system.

Former chairpersons and commissioners who served in the NYC over the last eight years banded together to urged the Comelec junk the substitution bid, citing his failure to meet the requirements needed to represent the youth sector in Congress.

Cardema and other nominees of the party "undisputedly fall outside the prescribed age set by law" based on information in their certificates of nomination and acceptance, they said.

The Comelec commissioners need to do two things: Follow the law and rule that Cardema is unqualified. Anything less would undermine their credibility and undermine the integrity of the electoral system which they have pledged to protect.

Topics: Commission on Elections , Duterte Youth , Ronald Cardema , Rodrigo Duterte , National Youth Commission
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