February 21, 2019

Ronald Cardema, chair of the National Youth Commission (NYC), has a lot of explaining to do as regards his involvement in the party-list group Duterte Youth.

This party-list group whose full name is Duty to Energize the Republic through the Enlightenment of the Youth Sectoral Party-list Organization has as its first nominee Ducielle Marie D. Suarez, reportedly the wife of Cardema. That Duterte Youth’s fifth nominee bears the name Elizabeth Anne F. Cardema makes us all the more demand an explanation from the NYC Chair. Isn’t the latter also the chair of Duterte Youth? Doesn’t this pose a conflict of interest given his position in government?

During the campaign period, it would do well for Ronald Cardema to take a leave of absence or resign from his position as NYC Chair. Aside from projecting some delicadeza, this is one way he can assuage suspicion of abuse of power and authority. Of course, he would still need to explain whether or not government funds and resources have been used to help in the ongoing campaign of Duterte Youth. Ronald Cardema should be reminded that the use of government funds and resources is a clear violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

He cannot hold on to his government position and ignore the glaring controversy. He needs to answer directly the following questions: How can the Duterte Youth represent the marginalized and underrepresented when its main movers are already part of government? On a related note, is Duterte Youth really representing the interest of the youth or just the Cardema family considering that its chair and two nominees are all related?At this point, Kontra Daya calls on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to investigate Ronald Cardema and his current involvement with the Duterte Youth, particularly any conflict of interest and the use of government funds and resources. COMELEC should address the issue of how Duterte Youth got accredited given all these questions, especially the fact that Cardema himself was already part of government when the group filed for its accreditation. Were there no red flags raised as to the possible use of public funds for the party-list group?

Was COMELEC even aware that Ronald Cardema is married to the first nominee of Duterte Youth?The House of Representatives (HOR) may also be interested to know that there are pictures on social media of the Duterte Youth using the HOR logo in a tarpaulin. Kontra Daya suspects that this was done without permission from the HOR, otherwise it would be embarrassing for legislators to allow the use of their logo during campaign sorties. It is necessary for the HOR to address this issue of material misrepresentation, especially in a situation where there are no party-list groups in recent memory that have resorted to such misuse of its logo.

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