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Comelec sets first hearing on petitions vs. Cardema

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) First Division has set on Tuesday its initial hearing on the petitions questioning the eligibility of Duterte Youth party-list first nominee Ronald Cardema.

Comelec Commissioner Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon said notices have been sent to the concerned individuals, including Cardema, for the 1 p.m. hearing at the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila.

“If he doesn’t (attend), it’s his loss,” Guanzon said when asked if Cardema, the former National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman, is required to attend the hearing.

The First Division is composed of Commissioner Al Parreño, as chairman, and Commissioners Guazon and Marlon Casquejo as members.

Meanwhile, Comelec lawyer George Garcia said a respondent to a case is not required to attend hearings at the poll body.

"Legally, there is no requirement for the respondent to attend and be present in the hearings. All they have to do is issue an SPA (special power of attorney)," said Garcia in an interview on Monday.

He added that it would be good for Cardema to attend since it is a high profile hearing.

"If I were his lawyer, I would advise him to attend the hearing as the court may have questions that would need him to personally answer them. It will be helpful to his case if he will be there personally," Garcia said.

Cardema is facing more than 10 petitions questioning his eligibility to be the nominee of the Party-list group, an organization for the youth sector, since he is already 34 years old.

Under the law, a nominee of the youth sector should be at least 25 years old but not more than 30 years of age on Election Day.

On June 4, the Comelec en banc approved the application for substitution of the five new nominees of the group which included Cardema, Gian Carlo Galang, Catherine Santos, Kerwin Pagaran, and Sharah Shane Makabali.

Voting 5-1-1, the poll body granted the group’s request upon the recommendations of its Law Department.

Ferdinand Patinio /PNA