Ex-poll chair Brillantes urges Comelec: Don't act on Cardema's withdrawal yet

MANILA, Philippines – Former poll chair Sixto Brillantes Jr on Wednesday, September 18, urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc to defer action on Duterte Youth chair Ronald Cardema's attempt to withdraw his nomination as the party's nominee.

In a letter to Comelec chair Sheriff Abas, Brillantes, along with election lawyer Emil Marañon, said the poll body must first act on Cardema's previous motion for reconsideration asking the Comelec en banc to reconsider the cancellation of his nomination.

"We respectfully and humbly pray that the Honorable Commission En Banc and/or the Chairman and/or any of its officers and employees defer in the meanwhile any action on Cardema's notice of withdrawal until the resolution of Cardema's motion for reconsideration," they said, adding a certificate of proclamation for Duterte Youth should likewise be withheld in the meantime. 

Brillantes and Marañon, along with youth group MillennialsPH, earlier filed petitions seeking to cancel Cardema's nomination, block Duterte Youth's new nominees, and cancel the party's registration. 

What nomination? Brillantes and Marañon opposed Cardema's attempt to back out as Duterte Youth's nominee, arguing that the Comelec 1st Division's decision to cancel Cardema's nomination in August 2019 meant there was nothing for Cardema to withdraw. The two election lawyers said the cancellation of nomination must first be reversed for Cardema to be able withdraw his bid.

"There is already a ruling by the First Division...granting our petition to deny due course, in effect declaring his nomination as void ab initio (from the beginning). Technically, Cardema cannot withdraw what did not exist," they said. (READ: Stretching the rules: Duterte Youth's bid for Congress)

Protect Comelec's intergrity: Meanwhile, Brillantes and Marañon urged the poll body to probe Cardema's corruption and extortion allegations against Commisisoner Rowena Guanzon. They added Cardema's attempt to withdraw due to alleged "public harassment" by Guanzon was "highly irregular" and "anomalous." (READ: Comelec's fiery commissioner: Who is Rowena Guanzon)

"It is absolutely most erroneous and totally uncalled for that a suppose nominee already rejected...will simplistically communicate...that he is intending to withdraw his alleged nomination premise on claims, assertions, allegations...which attacks, assails, and condemns a member of this Honorable Commission," they said.

"A formal investigation of Cardema's claims...express in writing and even made public should warrant an investigation. And if subsequently shown to be untrue, false, and fabricated, the same should warrant a rejection and denial of Cardema's request for withdrawal," they added.

The two election lawyers warned that were the Comelec to approve Cardema's withdrawal without any investigation into his claims, "such action would simply be a clear case of condemnation" of its commissioner without due process.

"Such action would simply be...absolutely unfair, unjust, and inequitable under such circumstances," they said. 

Since the Comelec 1st Division's cancellation of his nomination, Cardema has accused Guanzon, who had voted against his party-list nomination, of corruption and extortion. (READ: Guazon on speaking out vs Cardema: It's my duty to defend Comelec)

Guanzon has repeatedly denied this and vowed she would fight against allegations made against her. (READ: Guanzon vs Cardema: He won't destroy my reputation) – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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