Malacañang on Monday said it is mulling taking legal action against National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman Ronald Cardema for abandonment of post when he petitioned to substitute as first nominee of Duterte Youth after seeing the partylist’s clear victory in the recent midterm elections.
The filing of charges, however, is subject to the final verdict to be handed down by the Commission and Elections (Comelec). A directive from President Rodrigo Duterte, if any, is also being awaited.
“Let’s wait and see,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
Cardema filed his appeal on the eve of the polls. But his move was questioned, including whether he met the deadline for the filing of the petition for substitution. It was also raised whether he meets the qualifications to become a youth representative in the House of Representatives.
But there was one major oversight on Cardema’s part in his last-ditch congressional bid.
According to Panelo, Cardema did not send notice to Mr. Duterte about his bid for substitution and that the Palace only knew about it from the newspapers.
The NYC is an agency directly under the Office of the President.
“The intention is very clear. He wants to leave the government. He did not… not even by a leave, that’s why we issued a statement. He’s deemed resigned,” the official stated.
“That means he did not give word. Otherwise, he should’ve told the President,” he added.
Cardema’s move, asserted Panelo, is very obvious of his “disinterest in further serving the Executive branch,” but that the Palace, had it known of his plan early on, will not stop him from doing so.
Last Sunday, 19 May, Panelo released a statement saying that regardless of the outcome of the petition, Malacañang deems Cardema “has already abandoned his present position because his act of filing the petition absolutely reflects his intention to relinquish his office.”
The official also relayed orders for Cardema to “turn over all official papers, documents and properties in his possession to the Office of the President.”
As of yesterday, Comelec director Frances Aribe said Cardema’s petition for substitution and Duterte Youth’s petition for withdrawal are yet to be decided on by the Commission en banc.
Cardema seemed to have jumped the gun though as he already branded himself as an “incoming” member of the House even though his plea has not yet been approved by the poll body.
Latest partial and unofficial results from the Comelec’s transparency server show that Duterte Youth has already has 346,314 votes, or 1.25 percent, based on 86,321 of 87,851 clustered precincts transmitted and is currently ranked 21st in the overall tally.
“He had a petition to be considered a legitimate nominee, that hasn’t been resolved yet.
There is a pending petition and that petition can be filed by anyone,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.
“The Comelec is studying the matter. There are legal issues involved, there are substantive issues involved, so we are taking the necessary time to decide this properly,” he added.
In a separate statement, Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon also clarified on social media that the substitution has not yet been approved.
Aside from the “untimely” substitution, another issue Cardema is facing with his petition is his age as his Facebook page — where he regularly posts updates — has showed his birthday as 13 April 1986, which makes him 33 years old.
According to the Section 9 of the Partylist System Act, a nominee of the youth sector must not be more than 30 years old, and the Comelec spokesman said that they are already looking into the issue.
“There have been allegations he’s 33. I haven’t seen his petition, so I don’t know what age he is factually. But even with the filing, this is the subject of intense study right now,” Jimenez said.
With Elmer N. Manuel