THE Department of Justice (DoJ) is studying “if charges can be filed” against former National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman Ronald Gian Carlo L. Cardema for presiding over a meeting even after he filed a petition to replace his wife as the first nominee of the Duterte Youth Party-list, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

In a press briefing at the Palace, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said he already talked to DoJ Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra regarding the information he received recently that Mr. Cardema “presided over a meeting on May 15 after the filing of a certificate of substitution on May 12.”

“I just talked a while ago to the DoJ Secretary, he will study the matter,” he said.

Asked if the purpose of the study is to find out whether charges can be filed, he said: “Yes.”

“We refer the case of Cardema to the DoJ because we have received reports that despite his filing of a certification of substitution, he presided over a meeting subsequent to that certification,” he also said.

Mr. Panelo said Mr. Cardema should not have presided over an NYC meeting because he was already deemed resigned when he filed the said petition.

“He already resigned, so how can he be presiding (over) a meeting?” he said.

“With respect to being a supporter of the President, as we have already repeatedly said, no allies, no friends, no supporters. If they committed any wrong, [they will not] be tolerated by this government,” Mr. Panelo said.

For his part, Mr. Guevarra said in a text message: “Yes, Sec. Panelo referred this matter to the DoJ this morning. We’ll start by gathering the relevant facts to determine if further investigation is warranted.”

In a statement last Sunday, Mr. Panelo said: “The petition for substitution of National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairperson Ronald Cardema as first nominee of the Duterte Youth party-list, as well as the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec’s) confirmation that it was timely filed (May 12), connotes that he is considered ipso facto resigned from his present post.”

“Regardless of the outcome, we deem that Mr. Cardema has already abandoned his present position because his act of filing the petition absolutely reflects his intention to relinquish his office and exposes his desire to serve the government in a different capacity,” he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin