Former National Youth Commission Chair Ronald Cardema contradicted himself and members of Duterte Youth on the reason why its nominees withdrew their candidacies en masse a day before the elections.
The Duterte Youth (Duty to Empower the Republic Through Enlightenment of the Youth), a group that represents the youth and professionals, won one seat in Congress.
In a May 23 interview with ABS-CBN, a day after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) proclaimed the winning party-lists, Cardema said the five original nominees–which include his wife Ducielle Marie Suarez and his second cousin Elizabeth Anne Cardema–withdrew due to “cold feet”:
“Cardema: I talked to my wife and she told me I’d be in the best position to debate in Congress, to advocate for our advocacies…Napag-usapan talaga nila na (they discussed [and] agreed that) the best representative there for Duterte Youth, the best representative there to defend the military, the youth, the government, is me.
Q: But why didn’t you settle this among yourselves…bakit (why) at the very last minute you would file for substitution…?
A: Ano po eh, parang hindi rin po ineexpect, nagkaroon rin po ng kaba sila na… mataas iyong expectation bigla sa Duterte Youth, dahil during the campaign kita naman natin na talagang nakiki-engage ang Duterte Youth sa Left tapos talagang trina-try ng Left, na tapatan rin ang Duterte Youth (It was not expected, they also feared that…the expectation for Duterte Youth is high because Duterte Youth is really engaging with the Left during the campaign…while the Left also tried to match us)…
Q: So this was a belated realization on the part of all five nominees of the Duterte Youth that you would have been the best person to sit in Congress?
A: Yes po.”
Source: ABS-CBN News Channel, Cardema – Duterte Youth nominees backed out due to Left fears, May 22, 2019, watch from 0:17 to 2:03
The notarized notices of withdrawal submitted by Duterte Youth’s original nominees do not bear out Cardema’s claim that all five lost their nerve during the campaign period, Comelec records show.
The nominees wrote a variety of reasons for withdrawing their nomination as party-list representative – from deciding to go back to private life to welcoming work opportunities abroad:
- Second nominee Joseph De Guzman said that after “careful contemplation,” he wanted to work “unnoticed” and instead support Duterte Youth “away from public opinion.”
- De Guzman’s wife Benilda, the group’s third nominee, emphasized that she would rather leave policymaking to the “intelligent minds” in the group, as it cannot replace her passion and calling for teaching.
- Fourth nominee Arnaldo Villafranca said he wants to keep his privacy while fulfilling his obligation to his family “under normal and ordinary ways of living.”
- Cardema’s cousin Elizabeth, Duterte Youth’s fifth nominee, wrote that she had a job opportunity abroad that “seem to offer promising experience.”
Only Cardema’s wife Ducielle, the group’s first nominee, explicitly echoed his statement that the group felt he would be the best representative of the party-list.
“Specifically, I objectively passed (sic) on the responsibility to the leadership of the party whose compassion and expertise are more fitting…”
More, Cardema admitted in an interview a month before elections that Ducielle’s candidacy was only temporary – they had already planned to withdraw her nomination before the polls:
“Actually, sir, when we filed, talagang wala na kaming ma-file agad na pangalan, sir. So andun naman iyong asawa ko, finile ko (we did not have anymore names to file immediately then, sir. So I filed [the nomination] of my wife because she was there). Pero (but) I talked to my wife, she can withdraw before the elections from the…from the seat.
Q: She will withdraw?
A: Yes sir.
Q: She will or she can?
A: She will, she will. It doesn’t matter who sits there, basta kahit iyong second nominee namin, si (even our second nominee) Joseph De Guzman, he’s very passionate about our advocacy…kahit sino pong nakaupo diyan, basta naka-linya sa aming adbokasiya (it does not matter who our representative is as long as he is in line with our advocacy)…
Source: ABS-CBN News, Youth Commission chair’s wife is Duterte Youth Party-list’s first nominee | ANC, April 8, 2019, watch from 0:39-1:15
The former youth commission chair is at the center of at least 10 petitions asking the Comelec to disapprove his bid to substitute as first nominee of the administration-backed party-list.
Youth groups and critics insist he is too old to represent the youth. Under the party-list law, nominees of the youth sector must at least be 25 but not more than 30 years old on election day. Cardema is 34 according to his certificate of acceptance of nomination.
Cardema defended himself, saying Duterte Youth is registered under the Comelec “to advocate for the Youth & Professionals sectors and under the latter category, there is no age limit.”
Among those who opposed Cardema’s bid as youth representative are the National Union of Students of the Philippines, Youth Act Now Against Tyranny, Kabataan Party-list, Millennials PH, election watchdog Kontra Daya, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, former NYC Commissioner-at-Large Dingdong Dantes and former NYC Chair Ice Seguerra.
On May 19, three days before Comelec proclaimed the winning candidates, Cardema updated the work and education section of his Facebook profile to describe his next job as “incoming congressman.”
Among those who congratulated him on Facebook are Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner Greco Belgica, and Quezon City 1st District Congressman Onyx Crisologo.
ABS-CBN News Channel, Cardema – Duterte Youth nominees backed out due to Left fears, May 22, 2019
Commission on Elections, Acceptance of Withdrawal for Party Nominees of Duterte Youth from the Commission on Elections
ABS-CBN News, Youth Commission chair’s wife is Duterte Youth Party-list’s first nominee | ANC, April 8, 2019
INQUIRER.net, Jimenez: 10 petitions filed vs Cardema’s bid to become partylist nominee, May 24, 2019
Ronald Gian Carlo Cardema official Facebook page, DUTERTE YOUTH: ELAGO & KONTRA DAYA, NPA-ALLIES WHO ARE JUST BITTER WITH THE ELECTION RESULTS, May 20, 2019
Ronald Gian Carlo Cardema official Facebook page, Started New Job at House of Representatives of the Philippines, May 17, 2019