Cardema's wife back as Duterte Youth party-list nominee

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — Ronald Cardema, chairperson of the Duterte Youth party-list, has renominated his wife to represent the group after he was rejected by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

Ducielle Marie Suarez Cardema was named second nominee in a document signed by Cardema and submitted to the poll body on Tuesday. She earlier withdrew as first nominee of the party-list saying she could "no longer fulfill the expectations set forth by the party." Cardema, who was then chairperson of the National Youth Commission, filed a highly contested bid to replace his wife.

The COMELEC First Division on Monday ruled in favor of a petition to cancel Cardema’s substitution plea. He can still appeal the division's decision before the en banc.

Cardema still topped the Duterte Youth's new list of nominees, which also included Guillermo Villareal, Krizza Reyes, and Robert Garcia.

No explanation was given as to why Ducielle is back as nominee, but Emil Marañon, lawyer of petitioners against Cardema, suspects it was to secure a congressional seat for any of the two Cardemas.

"The obvious intention is to secure the congressional seat to Ronald Cardema’s wife, Ducielle, should the cancellation of the former’s nomination is affirmed by the Comelec en banc," Marañon said in a Facebook post Wednesday.

He said their camp will soon file petitions against Cardema's latest move, calling it another "clear attempt to circumvent" the Party-List System Act. He noted that the law prohibits the change of names or alteration of the order of nominees after they have been submitted to the COMELEC.

Commissioner Rowena Guanzon in a media briefing on Wednesday said she has asked the COMELEC's law department to probe Cardema's possible criminal liability for misrepresentation. The law states that a nominee of the youth sector, which the Duterte Youth party-list represents, must not be more than 30 years old. Cardema is 34. This was among the reasons why his substitution bid was rejected.

Guanzon has also dismissed the filing of Cardema's substitution plea as invalid, since it was done on a Sunday, a day before the May 13 midterm elections when the original set of nominees all withdrew their bid.

CNN Philippines' Triciah Terada contributed to this report.