Probe NYC, Duterte Youth for use of gov’t funds, conflict of interest — poll watchdog
Updated 5:02 p.m.
MANILA, Philippines — An election watchdog on Thursday asked National Youth Commission (NYC) Chair Ronald Cardema to take a leave of absence or resign from his post due to his alleged ties with the Duterte Youth party-list that is running for the May elections.
Kontra Daya also said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should investigate Cardema and his current involvement with Duterte Youth (Duty to Energize the Republic through the Enlightenment of the Youth Sectoral Party-list Organization) for a possible “conflict of interest and the use of government funds and resources.”
The group said the party-list’s chair is Cardema, while its first nominee is Ducielle Marie D. Suarez, Cardema’s wife. Meanwhile, its fifth nominee is Elizabeth Anne F. Cardema.
“Isn’t the latter (Cardema) also the chair of Duterte Youth? Doesn’t this pose a conflict of interest given his position in government?” the election watchdog said in a statement. “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,” Kontra Daya told Cardema that leaving his post is one way to dispel 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,” the group warned.
Kontra Daya also said Cardema should answer how could the Duterte Youth “represent the marginalized and underrepresented when its main movers were already part of the government,” and whether the party-list “really represents the interest of the youth or just the Cardema family.”
Kontra Daya also tagged the House of Representatives after its logo was allegedly used on Duterte Youth’s tarpaulin.
‘Public funds not used’
In a text message to INQUIRER.net, Cardema confirmed his ties to Suarez and Elizabeth and assured that “no public funds have been tapped” by the party-list.
Cardema also did not find anything wrong about his relatives being nominees of the Duterte Youth.
“Definitely there’s nothing wrong about it, even the wife of the MMDA Chairman, the wife of the COA Chairman, and wives of more than 40 other government officials are running in the partylist system,” he claimed.
Cardema then branded Kontra Daya and its convenor, University of the Philippines Assoc. Prof. Danilo Arao, as “leftists” who refused to investigate the issue that some Kabataan party-list members have become members of the New People’s Army.
But Arao said “name-calling (e.g., use of the word leftist) and Red-baiting” of another youth party-list group are the “ultimate recourse of the ignorant and misinformed.”
If Cardema is “very sure” that Duterte Youth is not using government funds and resources, then he should “welcome any investigation into NYC and Duterte Youth,” Arao argued.
The professor also slammed Cardema’s remark that there was nothing wrong with having two relatives as party-list nominees, saying it “reflects his lack of appreciation of why the party-list law was enacted in 1995.”
“The law was meant for the poor who need genuine representation, not for officials like him who use PL groups for familial, dynastic gain,” Arao said.
Cardema’s request to President Rodrigo Duterte to revoke the scholarships of “anti-government” students recently drew the ire of the public, even of Malacañang, some lawmakers, the Justice Secretary, and various youth groups.
He later clarified his statement: “I’m correcting this because my statement was to ask President Duterte to issue an executive order to study the government scholarships being given to anti-government scholars na nagre-rebelde na, na sumusuporta sa New People’s Army (NPA).” /ee
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