The Duty to Energize the Republic through the Enlightenment of the Youth (Duterte Youth) Party-List on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to prevent former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon from taking the post as P3PWD Party-list representative in the House of Representatives.
In a 21-page petition, Duterte Youth through Rep. Marie Cardema and chairperson Carlo Cardema also sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction enjoining the respondent Comelec from issuing a certificate of proclamation to the substituting nominees of P3PWD led by Guanzon.
The petitioners said the TRO should also enjoin the House of Representatives from allowing Guanzon and substituting nominees from assuming as members of the lower house.
Besides the Comelec and HR, also named as respondents were P3PWD Party-List and its nominees led by Guanzon.
Likewise, the petitioners also sought for nullification of resolution issued by the Comelec approving the “illegal” and “belated” substitution of P3PWD’s nominees last June 14, 2022.
According to the petitioners, the Comelec resolution was issued in violation of Comelec promulgated rules on party-list substitution since it was made after the elections.
The petitioners noted that under Comelec Resolution No. 9366 promulgated in 2012 and was amended by Resolution No. 10690 on January 27, 2021, the withdrawal of nominations and substitution of nominees due to withdrawal shall be made not later than November 15, 2021.
“In this case, it is clear that the submission of resignation and withdrawal by the original nominees and certificates of nomination and acceptance of nomination of P3PWD’s new set of nominees on June 14, 2022 is in violation of the deadline set by the Commission’s own promulgated Resolution No. 9366, as amended by Resolution No. 10690,” the petitioners pointed out.
Even assuming that the mass resignation of P3PWD’s original nominees does not constitute voluntary withdrawal but incapacity or even death, the substitution is still illegal, they said.
The petitioners noted that under Section 5, Rule 4 of Comelec Resolution No. 9366 by Resolution No. 10690, as amended, substitution due to death or incapacity can only be done until mid-day of the election day.
They added that it also violates the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees, most especially by substituting Guanzon, who served as Comelec Commissioner from 2015 until February 2, 2022.
It pointed out that Guanzon will benefit from her then participation in a collegial body that approved her own party-list, with her former colleagues approving her petition for substitution “with undue haste.”
“Comelec is a constitutional body compose of 7 (seven) en banc members, the voting 3-1 is not only questionable, the voting violated their own promulgated rules on substitution deadlines and will give due course also to the violation of our own two legal hallmarks against graft and corruption abuses of public offices,” the petition read.
“Guanzon was just a public official/commissioner of the Comelec, less than 5 months ago and the Comelec is a collegial body meaning the entire body, including Guanzon, approved the inclusion in the ballot and participation in the 2022 elections of around 170 party-lists, including the P3PWD Party-List which she will have material benefit in if given due course to substitute now,” it added.
The petitioners said the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in approving the substitution.
“In hastily approving the illegal substitution of P3PWD, one day after the petition was filed by their former colleague, the Comelec
exercised its power in arbitrary or despotic manner so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty to enforce and administer election laws,” they said.
The petitioners argued that Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List System requires that the list of nominees should be submitted before the elections to give the electorate the opportunity to assess which party-list organization to elect.
The petitioners said in the case of P3PWD, all its five original nominees were replaced after the elections, thus, the public never had the chance to scrutinize the new set of nominees.
“In fact, it is obvious that the 5 original nominees of P3PWD were mere placeholders for Guanzon under whose term as Commissioner of Comelec the registration of P3PWD was approved,” the petitioners said.
“Clearly, what was done by P3PWD was a grand deception designed to accommodate Guanzon even if it means betrayal of electorate’s trust and shameless mockery of the law and circumvention of the Party-List System,” the petitioners said.