Comelec approves withdrawal of Duterte Youth nominees

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By Gilian M. Cortez

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday has withdrawn the five original Duterte Youth nominees but has yet to decide if National Youth Commission (NYC) Chair Ronald Gian Carlo L. Cardema will be the first nominee of the youth party-list group.

On Tuesday, the Comelec released a resolution regarding Duterte Youth’s petition to withdraw all five of its nominees and substitute the first nominee with Mr. Cardema.

The Comelec En Banc recommended to grant the withdrawals of the Certificate of Acceptance of Nomination (CONA) of Ducielle Marie D. Suarez-Cardema, Joseph M. De Guzman, Benilda C. De Guzman, Arnaldo B. Villafranca, and Elizabeth Anne F. Cardema.

Last month, Mr. Cardema filed his petition for substitution in order to replace his wife. Ms. Suarez-Cardema, who was the first nominee of Duterte Youth.

During the May 13 National and Local Elections, Duterte Youth won one seat in the House of Representatives.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon clarified in a social media message that despite granting the withdrawal of all five nominees of Duterte Youth, “His substitution is not yet granted because there is a pending petition or opposition on the ground that he is over 30 (years) old and cannot be a (representative) of a youth sector party list.”

The resolution said the poll body will “give due course to the nomination of the following new nominees as substitutes.” No statement explicitly stated that the Comelec granted Mr. Cardema’s substitution.

Upon filing for substitution, Mr. Cardema drew flak for being over the age limit as required for a youth sector party-list representative. Republic Act No. 7941 or the Partylist System Act states that a youth sector representative should be between the ages of 25 to 30 years old before Election Day. Mr. Cardema is 33 years old.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo had said Mr. Cardema’s filing for substitution is considered a resignation from his post as NYC chairman. The Palace had ordered Mr. Cardema to vacate his office.