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Comelec en banc allows Guanzon to sit as P3PWD party-list rep

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc on Wednesday allowed retired poll commissioner Rowena Guanzon to sit as the first nominee of Komunidad ng Pamilya, Pasyente at Persons with Disabilities or P3PWD Party-list, acting spokesperson Rex Laudiangco announced.

According to Laudiangco, the en banc approved in a "majority vote" the request of P3PWD Party-list, which was submitted to the Comelec Law Department on June 14, to withdraw the nomination of its original roster namely Grace Yeneza, Ira Paulo Pozon, Marianne Heidi Cruz Fullon, Peter Jonas David, and Lily Grace Tiangco.

The en banc has also "given due course" or granted and approved the new list of nominees which named Guanzon as its first nominee.

Rosalie Garcia was named the second nominee, Cherrie Belmonte-Lim as third nominee, Donnabel Tenorio as fourth nominee, and Rodolfo Villar Jr. as the fifth nominee.

The Comelec has yet to provide a copy of the official resolution on the matter.

Responding to media queries, Laudiangco said Guanzon, during her time as commissioner of the poll body, did not participate in the hearing and the granting of P3PWD's petition for registration as a party-list organization.

He added that the petition for registration of P3PWD was also granted by the Comelec Second Division which was then composed by Commissioner Socorro Inting and now-retired Commissioner Antonio Kho Jr.

Unlike with candidates in elective positions which has a certain period of time for substitutions, Laudiangco explained in a text message to GMA News Online that in the past, the Comelec en banc has allowed the filing of a new list of nominees even after the elections "for the very reason that the original list of nominees had been exhausted, either via resignation, death or incapacity."

"Even though there’s a deadline for filing of withdrawal and substitution, the COMELEC cannot prevent the withdrawal or resignation of a nominee, or otherwise force the nominee to remain as such," Laudiangco said.

He cited a portion of Section 8 of the Party-List System Act which states that "[n]o change of names or alteration of the order of nominees shall be allowed after the same shall have been submitted to the COMELEC except in cases where the nominee dies, or withdraws in writing his nomination, becomes incapacitated in which case the name of the substitute nominee shall be placed last in the list."

Further, Laudiangco explained to reporters that candidates in the Party-List System are the groups itself and not the nominees.

"[T]his is not the first time that this issue happened, with 'all' nominees withdrawing the acceptance of their nominations after the close of polls. In all instances the ruling of the Commission had been consistent," Laudiangco said.

"Unless there is a clarificatory amendment to RA 7941, particularly on Sections 8 and 16, this would be the rule to be followed by the Commission in similar cases," he added.

The P3PWD party-list, which was campaigned for by Guanzon in the 2022 national and local polls, won one seat in the House of Representatives.

Before the P3PWD party-list submitted the documents assigning Guanzon as its new first nominee, National Youth Commission (NYC) Undersecretary Ronald Cardema accused the retired poll official of forcing all the party-list group's nominees to resign so she can sit in the House of Representatives.

Guanzon had challenged Cardema to present the people whom she allegedly coerced, adding that a complaint should be lodged before the Comelec if the accusations are true.

Although she defended herself from Cardema'a accusations, Guanzon did not discount the possibility of her taking the congressional seat for the party-list group.

"'Wag po kayo mag-alala. Kahit sino naman ang umupo diyan ay karapat-dapat siya sa aming katungkulan at adbokasiya [Don't worry. Whoever sits there is worthy to be a representative and to push for our advocacy]," she said.

"Kung ako man po ang uupo diyan, karangalan ko po kung piliin nila ako at gagawin namin ang aming makakaya sa loob ng tatlong taon [It would be an honor if I will be chosen to sit there and we will do whatever we can within three years]," she added.

The retired poll official earlier explained that once a certification of proclamation is issued by the Comelec to the party-list, the party-list can decide who will be their representative if all the nominees resigned and the group submitted a new list to the poll body.—LDF, GMA News