Cardema asks COMELEC to junk disqualification ruling

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 14) – Former National Youth Commission chair Ronald Gian Carlo Cardema has formally asked the poll body to junk its earlier decision to disqualify him as Duterte Youth Party-list first nominee based on age, among others.

In an 11-page appeal filed with the Commission on Elections on August 13, Cardema said the COMELEC first division made a mistake in withholding Cardema's certificate of proclamation pending the resolution of issues against him, saying it sets a "dangerous precedent that would enable the Commission to... deprive a winning party-list of its seat." Duterte Youth secured a seat in the midterm elections.

"The honorable commission erred in finding that a certificate of proclamation for respondent Cardema is a condition sine qua non before he can validly assume office in the House of Representatives, notwithstanding his supposed oath of office," the appeal read.

Cardema said the House of Representative Electoral Tribunal has the "sole" jurisdiction in deciding whether or not a nominee is qualified since he already took his oath on June 30, 2019.

The former youth commissioner also denied that he made a "material misrepresentation" in his qualifications as a first nominee representing the youth and young professionals because the Commission earlier granted his petition for substitution.

On May 12, a day before the deadline for filing the plea to substitute, Cardema filed a petition with the COMELEC for him to replace his wife Ducielle as Duterte Youth nominee.

The appeal also slammed as "baseless" the COMELEC's interpretation that the age requirement for the nominees of a sectorial party representing the youth and young professionals is limited to 25 to 30 years old, as there is no legal definition of "young professionals" in its charter.

Almost two weeks ago, the COMELEC first division took the petitioners' side, and ruled that 34-year-old Cardema is ineligible to become the youth group party-list's substitute-nominee because he failed to meet the age requirement under the applicable law.

The Party List System Act states, "In case of a nominee of the youth sector, he must at least be twenty-five, but not more than thirty years of age on the day of the election."

Cardema, Duterte Youth president, secretary general and chairman have also submitted a second set of Duterte Youth nominees after his nomination got canceled, but it was blocked Tuesday by a youth group and former poll chief Sixto Brilliantes.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Triciah Terada contributed to this report