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Guanzon’s replacement in the party-list group

MANILA – Rep. Ducielle Cardema of the Duterte Youth Party-list filed a formal opposition to the late substitution of former Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon as the new first nominee of the winning party-list group of the Komunidad ng Pamilya, Pasyente at Persons with Disabilities before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday (P3PWD).

Cardema objected to Guanzon’s substitution in a letter to Comelec Executive Director Bartolome Sinocruz Jr., claiming that it violates Comelec rules on the deadline for substitution, as well as the Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees.

Cardema pointed out that the P3PWD Party-List submitted its new substitution documents well after the Comelec Substitution Deadline of November 15, 2021 in cases of voluntary withdrawal, and well after the added Comelec Substitution Deadline of May 9, 2022, or on election day in rare cases of death or incapacity.

“Comelec cannot break its own rules, especially when it comes to a group that organized this mockery of the Comelec Deadline Rules in advance,” she stated.

According to Cardema, allowing this substitution to proceed would also violate the public officials’ code of conduct, which prohibits them from having a direct or indirect material interest in any transaction requiring their approval for a period of one year after their resignation, retirement, or separation from public office.

She explained that Guanzon joined the Comelec as a public official commissioner “4 months and two weeks ago,” and that the Comelec as a collegial body approved the inclusion of around 170 party lists on the ballot and participation in the 2022 elections, including the P3PWD Party-List, in which she will have material benefit if given due course to substitute now.

Apart from that, she claims the change violates Section 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits a person from directly or indirectly becoming involved, for personal gain or having a material interest, in any transaction or act requiring the approval of a board, panel, or group of which he or she is a member and which exercises discretion in such approval, even if he votes against it or does not participate in the board, committee, or group’s action.

“The above-mentioned legal hallmarks of the government against graft and corruption, as well as abuse of public offices,” Cardema said, “are enough valid reasons why the petitioning new first nominee, Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon, should not be given due course to substitute, or else such Comelec decision will immediately contribute to the violation of these strict laws on graft and corruption.”

Acting poll body spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco previously stated that the public has the right to contest former Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s candidacy as one of the P3PWD party-list nominees.

“Any person entirely on the ground that a major misrepresentation has been perpetrated in the qualifying of candidates may file a verified petition to deny due course and/or cancellation – Section 1 Comelec Resolution No. 9366,” Laudiangco said in a statement.

He stated that the petitions should be filed within five days after the list of nominees being published.

“A Verified Petition for Disqualification; Section 2 of the same Resolution – may be filed by any person if the nominee has been declared guilty of, or found by the Commission guilty of, having: given money or other material consideration to influence, induce, or corrupt voters or public officials performing electoral functions; committed acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy; spent an amount in excess of that allowed in the campaign.”

The applications must be filed with the Commission’s Clerk’s Office, according to Laudiangco.

The P3PWD party-list has been granted until June 19 to publish its new nominees in two national general circulation newspapers, or within five days of their filing on June 14.

The en banc of the poll body accepted the new list of nominees for the group on Wednesday, with the first nominee being the previous poll body Commissioner. She left her job in February of this year.

The Comelec also accepted the resignations of the first group of nominees for the organization.

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