MANILA - National Youth Commission Chairman Ronald Cardema on Tuesday said he was not using public funds to campaign for the Duterte Youth party-list, in response to criticism.
Cardema said his wife, Ducielle Marie D. Suarez, might withdraw as Duterte Youth first nominee before the May vote. He admitted that the fifth nominee, Elizabeth Anne F. Cardema, is a "distant relative."
"Wala tayong nakikitang problema dyan hangga’t wala tayong ginagastos from our office or we’re not using our office to campaign for the youth group. Makikita niyo naman na wala," he told ANC's Early Edition.
(We don't see any problem there as long as we don't use money from our office or we're not using our office to campaign for the youth group. You will see that we didn't.)
"When we filed, talagang wala kaming ma-file agad na pangalan. So nandun naman yung asawa ko, finile ko. Pero I talked to my wife, she can withdraw before the election from the seat… She will," he said.
(When we filed, we really couldn't file a name immediately. My wife was there and I filed it. But I talked to my wife, she can withdraw before the election from the seat... She will.)
Watchdog group Kontra Daya earlier asked the Commission on Elections to investigate Cardema for conflict of interest over his involvement with Duterte Youth.
The group also called for Cardema's leave of absence during the campaign period or resign from his position as NYC Chair.
"Advocacy lang talaga itong Duterte Youth natin, wala tayong problema kung ito ay matalo o manalo, basta maihayag na meron tayong advocacy na ganito at meron tayong naging option sa kabataang Pilipino," Cardema said Tuesday.
(Duterte Youth is simply an advocacy for us, it's not a problem if we lose or win, as long as we manifest that the Filipino youth have this option.)
The Reserve Officers Training Corps program should be made mandatory for college students while the Citizenship Advancement Training should be required for high school students, according to Duterte Youth, which lists anti-insurgency as an advocacy.
Duterte Youth also wants to defend government troops from insurgents and groups that are vocal in denouncing them, said its president, Billy Villareal.
"Dapat magkaroon sila ng boses na protektahan din sila, hindi lang yung kabilang side lang ang laging vocal para maghayag ng kanilang hinaing," he said.
(They have to have a voice that will protect them, that it's not just the other side that is vocal in their complaints.)
"Napaka-importanteng suportahan itong pangulong ito kasi baka sa susunod na mga taon ay hindi na natin matamasa yung pagbabagong iyon," he said.
(It is very important for us to support this president because in the coming years, we might not be able to achieve those changes.)