Cardema: Duterte Youth nominees backed out due to Left fears

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2019 09:46 AM | Updated as of May 23 2019 10:33 AM

No govt funds used for Duterte Youth campaign, no Palace hand in substitution bid 

Ronald Cardema, who substituted himself as representative of Duterte Youth, attends the proclamation of incoming party-list groups by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Pasay City, May 22, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Former youth commissioner Ronald Cardema on Thursday said nominees of the Duterte Youth party-list withdrew from the elections out of fear of left-leaning groups, which prompted him to petition being a substitute representative. 

"Hindi rin po ini-expect," he told ANC. 

"Nagkaroon rin ng kaba sila (nominees) na mataas iyung expectation bigla sa Duterte Youth dahil during the campaign kita naman natin na talagang nakiki-engage ang Duterte Youth sa left at talagang tina-try rin ng left na tapatan ang Duterte Youth," he added. 

(It was not expected. They grew nervous that the expectation for Duterte Youth spiked because during the campaign the group engaged with the left and the left tried to counter Duterte Youth.) 

Cardema said his wife Ducielle urged him to replace her as the party-list's first nominee because "I'd be in the best position to debate in Congress." 

"Alam naman ninyo na nilalabanan talaga namin itong mga makakaliwang grupo sa Kongreso at magaling silang magdebate, so kailangan talaga ang itapat mong pandebate sa kanila e iyung medyo matagal na ring nakikipagdebate sa kanila outside Congress," he said. 

(We are fighting these left-leaning groups in Congress and they are good in debating, so they should face off with someone who has been long debating with them outside Congress.) 

"Hindi naman tayo napipilitan. Sinasabi lang sa akin ng ating wife, 'nakakatakot naman 'yan, lalabanan natin 'yung mga leftists'...Nakita nila, napag-usapan nila na the best representative for Duterte youth, the best representative to defend the military and the youth, the government, is me."
 
Cardema's substitution plea has faced criticism because it was filed on the eve of the polls, allegedly depriving watchdogs of time to question it. 

Under the law, he is also 3 years over the age limit of 30 for those who want to represent the youth sector. 

Cardema has also been accused of using his post as head of the National Youth Commission to campaign for the party-list. 

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv

CARDEMA FIRES BACK 

The former youth commissioner said he did not use NYC funds to campaign for the Duterte Youth party-list. He also said he can promote the group because he was a political appointee, not an elected official. 

"Sa tingin natin, wala talagang problema kahit i-probe tayo... Mas okay nga 'yun, para makita nilang wala talaga tayong ginamit [na pondo ng gobyerno]," he said. 

(We think there isn't any problem even if we are probed. That would be better, it would show that we didn't use public funds.) 
 
"Mas naka-campaign pa sana ako kung wala ako sa NYC, mas nakaikot ako," he added. 

(I would have been able to campaign more if I were not in the NYC, I could have gone around.) 

He also argued that the party-list represents both the youth and the professional sector, with the latter having no age limit

CHANGE IN FB PROFILE 

Cardema's substitution plea is "not yet decided," Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said Thursday. 

However, Cardema has already changed his Facebook profile description to "Incoming Congressman at House of Representatives of the Philippines."

Asked why he changed his status online, he said: "Wala naman 'tong coordination with Malacañang... Medyo ganoon lang, excited."

(This has no coordination with Malacañang. I was just a bit excited.) 

"Naghihintay ang mga supporters natin sa Duterte Youth kung ano ba talagang magiging resulta, kailangan mo rin ng pampalakas ng loob sa kanila. Walang basis talaga 'yun," he added. 

(Our supporters are waiting for the results, you need to encourage them. It really had no basis.)