COMELEC: More petitions filed to stop Cardema substitution bid

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) — More complaints have been filed seeking to block the substitution plea of former National Youth Commission Chair Ronald Cardema as substitute nominee of the Duterte Youth party-list, Commission on Elections (COMELEC) spokesperson James Jimenez said Friday.

He said there are more than 10 opposition cases filed against Cardema's bid to become the first and only nominee of the winning party-list.

Jimenez did not go into the details of each opposing petition. He said the COMELEC en banc may consolidate similar petitions. The poll body has over 30 days to decide with the incoming solons taking office beginning June 30.

"At this point it's premature to say na hindi siya makakaupo o uupo siya kasi right now, ang na-proclaim natin ay party-list and that stays. Ang kwestiyonable na lang ngayon ay sino ang mauupo when that time comes. Right now, we have more than a month to go," he said in a media briefing.

He said there is no schedule yet when COMELEC will issue the resolution.

"In this particular instance we still have the ball kasi ang pinagtatalunan dito is whether or not his substitution has been validly achieved," Jimenez said.

The issue with Cardema's petition is mainly focused on meeting the substitution deadline and about his age.

COMELEC Chairman Sheriff Abas on Wednesday said the poll body has approved Cardema’s plea to be a substitute nominee for the Duterte Youth party-list because he has met the deadline for the substitution bid. However, Guanzon said that, to her knowledge, the COMELEC has not released any resolution on Cardema's substitution yet. Guanzon said she will dissent if the poll body approves the petition because she believes it is invalid.

"(The filing) — for me — is not a valid filing because we don't have office hours on Sunday... All he has to get is the majority, there are 7 of us, if he gets 4 votes then his application for substitution is accepted and given due course. In my opinion, he did not file on time," she told CNN Philippines on Thursday.

Cardema is also facing backlash for representing a youth party-list when he is already 33 years old. 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 said their party-list represents the marginalized youth and professionals, so he doesn't have to adhere to the age limit. But former COMELEC Commissioner Gregorio "Goyo" Larrazabal said that when party-list groups file their accreditation for their organization, they have to pick one specific sector to represent. He also questioned the claim of Cardema that Duterte Youth also represents the professional sector.

Jimenez said the COMELEC en banc will discuss the issues regarding Cardema's age.