VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte Youth’s Cardema spews three false claims in Comelec withdrawal notice

Disqualified Duterte Youth party-list nominee and former National Youth Commission head Ronald Cardema made three false claims in his Notice of Withdrawal submitted before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sept. 13.

Duterte Youth (Duty to Empower the Republic Through Enlightenment of the Youth), which won one seat in the House of Representatives, again named Cardema as first nominee in its new certificate of nomination.

This, despite the decision of Comelec First Division to junk Cardema’s nomination for failure to meet the age requirement for youth representatives. Section 9 of the Party-list System Act states that youth representatives “must at least be 25 but not more than 30 years of age on the day of the election.” Cardema is 34 years old.

Here are Cardema’s three false claims.

On delayed congressional representation

Statement: “[U]ntil now we are not able to take our (Duterte Youth) duly-proclaimed seat in the Philippine Congress because of the public harassment towards me of (sic) Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.”

Fact: The “real cause” of the delay is Duterte Youth’s “very last minute” withdrawal of its original set of nominees, which they then replaced with nominees of “questionable eligibility,” Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a text message to VERA Files on Sept. 18.

The Comelec First Division on Aug. 5 ruled in favor of the multiple petitions against Cardema and cancelled his nomination after having found that:

“[he was] aware that he is already thirty-four (34) years old [at the time of his nomination], and thus, committed a falsity when he misrepresented that he is eligible for nomination…despite not possessing the age qualification provided by law for representatives of the youth sector…”

Source: Commission on Elections First Division, SPA No. 19-003 and SPA No. 19-004, Aug. 5, 2019, p. 23

Cardema had argued he is not covered by the age limit set by law since the party-list represents not only the youth sector but young professionals as well.

However, in the absence of a definition of the term “young professionals,” the Comelec said such professionals “would also necessarily belong to the youth sector.”

It added, for the “sake of discussion,” that Cardema expressed his advocacy for young professionals only after his eligibility as a youth representative was questioned, and that his track record failed to prove this advocacy.

On Cardema’s Certificate of Proclamation

Statement: “…[Commissioner Guanzon] used her office as a Commissioner-Judge…to force Comelec offices & employees to withhold my already existing Certificate of Proclamation.”

Fact: Cardema has no existing Certificate of Proclamation. In a text message on Sept. 16, Jimenez told VERA Files that “no certificate of proclamation has been issued, and that’s really all there is to it.”

The Comelec resolution on Cardema’s case stated:

“It is worth noting that [Cardema] himself has not yet secured a Certificate of Proclamation from this Commission, the issuance of which was held in abeyance during the pendency of the present consolidated cases questioning [Cardema’s] eligibility for the office he seeks to assume.”

On the age of Duterte Youth’s original nominees

Statement: “When the Comelec en banc approved our Registration last January 2019, our nominees were ages 28, 40, 41, 43 & 46.”

Fact: Cardema got the ages of four out of five Duterte Youth original nominees wrong.

According to the party-list’s Certificate of Acceptance of Nomination, filed on Oct. 17, 2018 and approved by the Comelec en banc on Jan. 28, 2019, the ages of the original nominees at the time of the filing were:

  • Ducielle Marie Suarez – 28 years old (born Sept. 20, 1990)
  • Joseph De Guzman – 39 years old (born Dec. 21, 1978)
  • Benilda De Guzman – 44 years old (June 15, 1974)
  • Arnaldo Villafranca – 42 years old (April 3, 1976)
  • Elizabeth Anne Cardema – 42 years old (July 8, 1976)

Ducielle Marie Suarez, Cardema’s wife, was initially the first nominee of the party-list. Prior to the May 2019 elections, Cardema falsely claimed Suarez and the four other nominees backed out because they “lost their nerve.” (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte Youth’s Cardema leaves a trail of false claims on party nominees)

The notarized notices of withdrawal submitted by Duterte Youth’s original nominees stated a variety of reasons for withdrawing their nomination as party-list representative.

Cardema made a last-minute substitution plea on May 12 — a day before the national elections.


Sources, Cardema still Duterte Youth’s 1st nominee despite Comelec ruling, Aug. 7, 2019

Manila Bulletin, Duterte Youth submits new set of nominees; Cardema still first nominee, Aug. 7, 2019

CNN Philippines, Cardema’s wife back as Duterte Youth party-list nominee, Aug. 7, 2019

COMELEC Commissioner Rowena Guanzon Official Twitter account, Seriously, Cardema stated under OATH, Sept. 16, 2019

Philippine Commission on Women, Republic Act 7941

Commission on Elections First Division, SPA No. 19-003 and SPA No. 19-004, Aug. 5, 2019

Commission on Elections, Certificate of Nomination of original nominees of Duterte Youth party-list

ABS-CBN, Cardema: Duterte Youth nominees backed out due to Left fears, May 23, 2019

Commission on Elections, Certificate of Nomination and Substitution of Party Nominees of DUTERTE Youth from the Commission on Elections

Commission on Elections, Acceptance of Withdrawal for Party Nominees of Duterte Youth from the Commission on Elections


(Guided by the code of principles of the International
Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims,
flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and
debunks them with factual evidence.
Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)