Cardema gatecrashes forum, engages word war with lawmaker

Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 01 2022 05:27 PM | Updated as of Oct 01 2022 05:35 PM

Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News
Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — National Youth Commission Chairperson Ronald Cardema gatecrashed a forum where Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raoul Manuel was guesting on Saturday, engaging the latter in a "word war."

Before Cardema’s arrival, Manuel was calling for the resignation of Cardema in the commission, alleging that NYC was involved in corruption and there was “mismanagement of funds.”

Asked by the moderator if he is willing to have a debate with Cardema, who had earlier denied corruption allegations, Manuel said that he will never back down on any challenge. 

The lawmaker, however, insisted that the latter should instead answer allegations thrown at country's youth commission.

An hour into the press briefing, Cardema stormed the place, sat on the other side of the moderator, and berated the congressman.

The NYC chair was the guest of the same forum the day before.

"Kasi nagsalita ako kahapon, tinanong mo bakit sinabi mo na corrupt and mismanaged ang NYC, wala ka man lang binanggit kung sino ang nangurakot sa NYC at kung magkano, di ba?" Cardema said.

He demanded the lawmaker to produce evidence that his office had been engaged in corrupt activities, noting that it was only under his term that NYC has gotten an ISO certification.

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Cardema added he wasn't given a chance at the plenary of the House of Representatives where Manuel made his allegations about NYC.

"Doon sa Kongreso para maging malinaw sa ating mga kababayan, iyong ang ating government officials at pwede mag-relay ng kanilang sentimyento through the legislators, or sponsors of their budget, hindi po totoo na wala silang avenues ang ating government agencies para sumagot," Manuel responded.

"Iyan naman po ay ayon sa findings ng Commission on Audit at iyon lang ang hihingan natin ng paliwanag mula sa Komisyon," he added. 

This should not be taken personally, he said, because government officials should be prepared to answer issues connected with public service.

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The two engaged more in debates on other topics such as red-tagging, alleged recruitment of NPA of the youth, among other issues, which only resulted in a deadlock.

"Nagpapaulit-ulit ang tanong ko tungkol sa NPA bakit hindi niyo kinokondena ang NPA recruitment ng mga kabataan?" Cardema asked.

"This is an example of how a government official does not understand the reality of rebellion in our country, dapat magpaturo po siya sa mga academicians tungkol sa rebellion," Manuel replied while being cut off midway by Cardema who accused the latter of diverting his answer.

"Nakakahiya na ikaw ang kinatawan ng kabataan na may pinatay na bata, ipagtatanggol mo ba ang nakapatay sa bata on the ground of rebellion, isnt that murder?" Cardema rebutted.

"Kung mayroon po siyang gustong mapanagot pwedeng pwede po niya iyan kasuhan wala pong pumpigil. We are calling for the investigations," Manuel said. 

Manuel described Cardema as “nakapabastos” or rude for storming into the forum and cutting him when he answered questions.

After almost an hour of back-and-forth, the “unscheduled” debate between the two youth officials ended with the two shaking hands while holding pandesal, a known product of the bakery cafe.