MANILA – Duterte Youth Party-list Rep. Ducielle Cardema on Friday filed a formal opposition before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) 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 (P3PWD).

In a letter addressed to Comelec Executive Director Bartolome Sinocruz Jr., Cardema lodged her objection to Guanzon's substitution as it violates the Comelec rules on the deadline of substitution, as well as the Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees.

Cardema noted that the P3PWD Party-List filed its new substitution documents way beyond the Comelec Substitution Deadline of November 15, 2021 in cases of voluntary withdrawal and beyond the added Comelec Substitution Deadline of May 9, 2022, or during election day, in rare cases of death or incapacity.

"Comelec cannot violate its own rules, especially for a group (that) pre-planned this mockery of the Comelec Deadline Rules," she said.

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

She explained that Guanzon was just a public official commissioner of the Comelec "4 months and two weeks ago", and the Comelec as a collegial body 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.

Aside from that, she said the substitution also violates Section 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which pertains to directly or indirectly becoming interested, 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 the same or does not participate in the action of the board, committee, panel, or group.

"The above-mentioned legal hallmarks of the government against graft and corruption and abuse of public offices 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," Cardema said.

Acting poll body spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco earlier said that the public is free to question the nomination of former Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, as one of the nominees of P3PWD party-list.

“Verified petition to deny due course and/or cancellation - Section 1, Comelec Resolution No. 9366, may be filed by any person exclusively on the ground that a material misrepresentation has been committed in the qualification of nominees,” Laudiangco said in a statement.

He said the petitions should be filed within five days after the publication of the list of nominees.

“Verified Petition for disqualification; Section 2 of the same Resolution - may be filed by any person when the nominee has been declared by final decision of a competent court guilty of, or found by the Commission of having: given money or other material consideration to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing electoral functions; Committed acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy; spent in the campaign an amount in excess of that allowed by law; solicited, received or made any contribution prohibited under Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104 of the Omnibus Election Code; or violated any of Sections 83, 86 and 261, paragraphs d, e, k, v and cc, sib-paragraph 6 of the Omnibus Election Code,” the poll body official added.

The petitions must be filed with the Office of the Clerk of the Commission, Laudiangco said.

The P3PWD party-list has been given until June 19 or within five days from their submission on June 14 to publish the list of its new nominees in two newspapers of nationwide general circulation.

On Wednesday, the poll body's en banc approved the new list of nominees of the group, whose first nominee is the former poll body Commissioner. She retired last February.

The Comelec also accepted the resignation of the organization’s first set of nominees. (PNA)