Cardema camp now says Duterte Youth also represents 'young professionals'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 11) — The Duterte Youth party-list represents not just the youth but also young professionals, Ronald Cardema's camp said Tuesday in a bid to get his substitution as nominee approved.

"This is an organization representing the youth and young professionals," lawyer George Garcia said during the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) hearing on the petitions against Cardema's bid to replace his wife as first nominee of the winning party-list.

This argument seeks to resolve one of the main issues regarding Cardema's substitution bid. According to Section 9 of the Party-list System Act, a nominee of the youth sector must not be more than 30 years old. Cardema is 33 years old.

But the petitioners on Tuesday maintained that the same age requirement should apply if Cardema seeks to represent young professionals.

"You can’t be a young professional kung old ka so first of all young ka and pasok ka doon sa age requirement na hindi dapat lumagpas sa 30 years old," Raoul Daniel Manuel of the National Union of Students of the Philippines said.

Election lawyer Emilio Marañon III noted that Cardema has consistently represented the youth in his public appearances, and it was only until eligibility questions were raised that he claimed to represent young professionals.

The hearing also revealed that the Duterte Youth has yet to comply with the COMELEC's May 22 order for it to publish in two major newspapers its revised list of nominees, which now include Cardema, Gian Carlo Galang, Catherine Santos, Kerwin Pagaran, and Sharah Shane Makabali.

COMELEC Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said this should have been done within five days from receipt of the order, but Cardema's camp said they were not aware of the deadline. Marañon said Cardema’s camp could be playing tactics to avoid litigation.

Cardema cannot sit as Duterte Youth representative in the House of Representatives pending the resolution of his case.

CNN Philippines' Triciah Terada contributed to this report.