Comelec 1st division cancels Cardema’s nomination as Duterte Youth party rep

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2019   •   579

Ronald Cardema

MANILA, Philippines – The first division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday ordered the cancellation of the nomination of former National Youth Commission (NYC) Ronald Cardema as a representative of the Duterte Youth Party-list in the 18th Congress.

Comelec spokesperson, director James Jimenez announced the decision on his Twitter account.

“The nomination of Respondent, Ronald Gian Carlo L. Cardema, as the first nominee of Duterte Youth party-list is hereby cancelled,” read the dispositive portion of the poll body’s first division resolution obtained by UNTV News and Rescue.

Two of the three-member division, Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Marlon Caquejo, voted in favor of the petition while Commissioner Al Parreño was on official business.

In a 25-page resolution, the Comelec 1st division said that Cardema committed material misrepresentation on his age when he filed his nomination bid.

The division said Cardema was not eligible to be nominated as Duterte Youth party representative contrary to the declaration he made in his Certificate of Acceptance of Nomination.

He was also aware that he is already 34 years old, and thus “committed a falsity when he misrepresented that he eligible for nomination” despite not possessing the age qualification provided by law for representatives of the youth sector.

Section 9 of Republic Act 7941 or the Partylist Law provides that a nominee of a youth party-list group must be between 25 to 30 years old.

“In view thereof, this Commission finds respondent to have committed material misrepresentation on his qualifications,” the resolution read.

During hearings, the camp of Cardema claimed that Duterte Youth is a multi-sectoral party representing not only the youth sector but also the young professionals and this, he is eligible to be nominated despite his already being 34 years old.

But taking the petition as a whole, the division said, it can be observed that the party intended to limit its representation of professionals only insofar as “young professionals” are concerned. The division noted that Cardema himself admitted to this effect in the pleadings he filed.

“While it may be true that Duterte Youth Party-list represents both the young and young professionals, it is important to consider that the professionals being represented by the party are the “young ones,” who would necessarily belong to the youth sector,” the resolution stated.

“With this in mind, this Commission finds no reason why the age qualification provided by law for nominees of the youth sector should not be applied to the respondent,” the resolution added.

Election Lawyer Emil Marañon, counsel for petitioners against Cardema’s nomination, welcomed the Comelec division’s decision.

“We are happy to announce that with the vote of 2-0, the Comelec First Division has granted our Petition seeking the cancellation of the nomination of Gian Carlo Cardema as the First Nominee of the Duterte Youth Party-List,” Marañon said on a Twitter post.

“Hopefully, this decision will be the first step towards the reform of the party-list system, that is to bring it back to the truly marginalized and underrepresented sectors,” he said in a separate statement.

Comelec suspends voter registration until March 31 due to COVID-19 threat

Robie de Guzman   •   March 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has suspended the voter registration until March 31 amid the rising number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the country.

In a statement, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez announced that the suspension will begin on Tuesday, March 10.

“As a response to the growing threat to public health posed by COVID-19, voter registration has been suspended by the Comelec until the 31st of March 2020,” he said.

Jimenez said the suspension takes effect nationwide, encompassing voter registration conducted in all Comelec offices in districts, cities, and municipalities, as well as all satellite registration activities.

“The public is advised to take all necessary precautionary measures to limit their exposure to the possibility of COVID-19 infection,” he added.

The poll body opened the voter registration for the 2022 national elections last January. It was initially set to run until September 30, 2021.

As of posting time, the Philippines has 33 confirmed coronavirus cases.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier declared a public health emergency amid the rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the country.

The DOH also raised Code Red Sublevel 1 after confirming the country’s first case of coronavirus local transmission.

Voter registration in Taal eruption-affected areas to resume on Feb. 3 – Comelec

Robie de Guzman   •   January 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The voter registration in Batangas and Cavite areas affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano will resume on Monday, February 3, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Thursday.

In a statement, Comelec said the voter registration for the 2022 elections will resume in the following places in Batangas province due to a return to normal working conditions:

  • Alitagtag
  • Balete
  • Laurel
  • Lemery
  • San Nicolas
  • Sta. Teresita
  • Taal
  • Talisay
  • Cuenca
  • Lipa City
  • Tanauan City
  • Balayan
  • Calaca
  • Kalatagan
  • Tuy
  • San Luis
  • Mabini
  • Lian
  • Malvar

In Cavite, the poll body said that registration of voters will also resume in Alfonso, Indang, Silang, Tagaytay City, and Amadeo.

Meanwhile, the voter registration in the municipality of Mataas na Kahoy in Batangas will resume on February 10, according to Comelec.

The poll body earlier announced the suspension of the registration in areas within and beyond the 14-kilometer danger zone of Taal Volcano during its eruption.

Gatchalian wants tax-free allowances for teachers on poll duty

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has urged his fellow lawmakers to expedite the passage of a bill seeking to grant tax exemption to the honoraria, transportation allowance and other benefits for public school teachers who will be on duty in the May 2022 elections.

In a statement, Gatchalian said that his measure, Senate Bill No. 1193, primarily introduces amendments to the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 so teachers can receive the full amount of their honoraria and other benefits.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue started imposing five percent withholding tax on poll workers’ election service honoraria and other allowances since the 2018 barangay elections.

The lawmaker stressed that despite the continuous service that these poll workers render to ensure the transmission of results, they still have to pay income tax if their annual taxable income, which includes such honoraria and allowances, exceeds the P250,000 threshold under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

“Mahabang oras ang inilalaan ng mga guro upang siguruhin ang kaayusan at integridad ng ating mga halalan,” Gatchalian said.

“Kaya naman inihain natin itong panukalang batas na ito upang kilalanin ang kanilang mahalagang papel para pangalagaan ang ating demokrasya,” he added.

The bill also proposes to exclude teachers’ poll honoraria and allowances from gross income. Under the Election Service Reform Act (ESRA), chairpersons of electoral boards are each entitled to receive P6,000. Each member of electoral boards receive P5,000. Department of Education Supervisor Officials (DESO) receive P4,000 each while support staff receive P2,000 each.

A travel allowance of P1,000 is also allotted to each of these poll workers. The ESRA, though, has no provision for tax exemption.

Aside from the necessity of paying income tax despite the poll workers’ arduous work during elections, Gatchalian also lamented the process they have to go through to collect their pay.

To collect their election honoraria and benefits, poll workers have to go to the local Commission on Elections (COMELEC) offices and submit a declaration of exemptions if they earn less than P250,000 annually.

“Napapagod na nga ang ating mga guro tuwing halalan, kailangan pa nilang dumaan sa isang komplikadong proseso para makuha lang nila ang kanilang sahod at mga benepisyo. Kung hindi na papatawan ng buwis ang sahod at benepisyo ng mga guro tuwing halalan, hindi lang sila basta makakatanggap ng kabuuang bayad, mas mapapadali din ang proseso para sa COMELEC,” he said.

Gatchalian believes the proposed measure is the best way to thank teachers and other poll workers for ensuring clean, honest and orderly elections in the country.

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