By Rommel F. Lopez / PressOnePH

Ronald Cardema

Duterte Youth party-list and its nominee, Ronald Cardema, are “just wasting the time of the Commission on Elections (Comelec)” as its accreditation should be invalidated, poll watchdog Kontra Daya said.

Kontra Daya lead convener Danilo Arao said the 34-year-old Cardema, formerly head of the National Youth Commission, is obviously over the maximum age for youth representatives, while his own lawyer has admitted that he cannot be a representative of young professionals since he does not possess a college degree and eligibility from either the Professional Regulation Commission or the Civil Service Commission.

Cardema’s lawyer Rani Angeli Supnet was forced to admit to Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, during an en banc hearing on the petition seeking the disqualification of Cardema as Duterte Youth party-list nominee, that Cardema did not finish college and is not a professional.

“While he can claim to be just simply an ‘advocate’ of young professionals, this is also problematic given his lack of a clear track record in addressing the rights and welfare of young professionals,” Arao said.

Arao said “bad posturing” wasn’t confined to Cardema alone as the substitute nominees of Duterte Youth also lacked the credentials to represent the party-list, since four out of five substitute nominees were too old to be youth sector representatives, “and none of the substitute nominees may be classified as young professionals and none of them have a clear track record of being advocates of them.”

“Duterte Youth is an epitome of extreme political arrogance and blatant abuse of power. It is a clear example of what is wrong with the Philippine party-list system. It is another wake-up call for Comelec, Congress, Supreme Court and the Filipino people that urgent reforms are indeed needed now,” he said.

Arao alleged that Duterte Youth’s “brazenness in circumventing the law and in deceiving even the Comelec” and their confidence to “get away with anything” must come from “their connections to the powers-that-be.”

“The Comelec has no other logical recourse but to deny the substitution bids of Cardema et al. and cancel the accreditation of the party-list group, or at least consider their seat forfeited for lack of any eligible nominee,” Arao said.