COMELEC division cancels Ronald Cardema’s bid for party-list nominee

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Former National Youth Commission Chairperson Ronald Cardema (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 5) — Former National Youth Commission Chairperson Ronald Gian Cardema nomination for party-list representative has been cancelled by one division of the national poll body.

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) First Division ruled in favor of a petition to cancel Cardema’s bid to be the first nominee of the Duterte Youth party-list.

Cardema faced backlash for claiming to represent a youth party-list when he is already 34 years old. The Party-list System Act states a nominee of the youth sector must not be more than 30 years old.

The COMELEC ruling stated Cardema made "material misrepresentation" on his qualifications as a nominee.

“While it may be true that Duterte Youth party-list represents both the youth and young professionals, it is important to consider that the professionals being represented by the party are the ‘young’ ones, who would also necessarily belong to the youth sector,” the ruling said.

“With these in mind, this Commission finds no reason why the age qualification provided by law for nominees of the youth sector should not be applied to (Cardema),” it added.

The COMELEC also said Cardema should have effected a change in affiliation from the youth sector to the professional sector if he claims to be part of the latter to represent the party-list.

The former National Youth Commission chairperson earlier argued the party represents “young professionals” which he claimed makes him qualified for the seat.

The poll body division also said it would be “highly improper” to declare Cardema eligible as a nominee of the Duterte Youth party-list on account of track record of advocacies relating to the youth and professionals sector.

“It is, therefore, necessary for the Respondent to face the inescapable consequences of his lack of eligibility as a party-list nominee,” the COMELEC division said.

The party won a seat in the House in the May 2019 elections. But COMELEC said Cardema has not yet secured a Certificate of Proclamation from them, as they held the release of the certificate pending the ruling.

“For this reason, (Cardema) would not be able to validly assume office in the House of Representatives, notwithstanding his supposed oath of office,” it said.

The COMELEC division added the jurisdiction of the commission sitting en banc is limited to resolving motions for reconsideration on the rulings of a division.

At least 10 opposition cases have been filed against Cardema's bid to become a Duterte Youth solon, replacing his wife Ducielle. The five former nominees of the party-list resigned two days before the polls, prompting the former NYC chair’s substitution.