Duterte’s ‘youth’ representative Ronald Cardema: Questions, issues, controversies

May 23, 2019 - 2:19 PM
Ronald Cardema
National Youth Commission Chair Ronald Cardema (Facebook/Ronald Cardema)

Ronald Cardema, a staunch and controversial supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, is pushing to become a party-list representative despite several questionable issues against him.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sheriff Abas said they have already ruled on the timing of the submission, however, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said she will dissent.

Abas confirmed that the commission en banc approved that Cardema submitted his appeal on time, that is, on May 12 or a Sunday.

“Kanina, napirmahan ko yung kuwan. May majority siya eh… Under our rules naman, puwedeng withdrawal and substitution before election day,” Abas said in an interview.

However, he clarified that its eligibility is another problem that the poll body has yet to decide on.

Commissioner Rowena Guanzon also tweeted that she has yet signed the resolution about it.

She will dissent, however, because the date of submission was technically a non-working day.

“He filed it on a Sunday May 12 which is not a regular work day. And didn’t file on last day May 13,” Guanzon said.

Representative Sarah Elago of Kabataan Party-list was one of the first to publicize the filing on Facebook on May 16.

Elago and other groups sought to block Cardema’s substitution given that Cardema is not qualified to represent the youth group in the first place.

Cardema reportedly gatecrashed a meeting of winning partylist representatives, becoming the butt of jokes and receiving jeers from the lawmakers.

“He is too presumptuous. He had the gall to gatecrash our get-together when he is not even a nominee of his party-list group,” one incumbent representative whose organization has won at least one seat in the House of Representatives said.

“Here comes the most controversial representative wannabe of the most controversial party-list group,” he said he heard another lawmaker introduce the ex-youth commission chief as he walked into the meeting room.

Issues raised

Comelec Resolution 3307-A contains the rules and regulations on nominees to be elected as party-list representatives.

Cardema’s last-minute application goes against several of its provisions.


The resolution allowed at least five nominees for each party-list whom voters may choose from in the elections.

Cardema is beyond the age limit based on the qualifications.

In section 14, it is stated that nominees of youth-related groups “must be at least twenty-five (25) but not more than thirty (30) years of age on the day of the election.”

Based on Cardema’s year of birth, he is already 33 years old, over-aged to represent a youth party-list group.

Substitution of nominees

A nominee can’t be replaced by just anyone based on section 18 of the measure. Only one of the five nominees is qualified to replace the person who withdrew.

“A party-list nominee may be substituted only when he dies, or his nomination is withdrawn by the party, or he becomes incapacitated to continue as such, or he withdraws his acceptance to the nomination,” the resolution said.

“In any of these cases, the name of the substitute nominee shall be placed last in the list of nominees,” it added.

Date of submission

While still NYC chair, Cardema filed the last-minute substitution application at 5:30 p.m. on May 12 Sunday, a non-working day, before the mid-term polls on May 13.

Then, the five nominees also reportedly withdrew even if they were doing well in the pre-election surveys.

Part of the resolution states: “No substitution shall be allowed by reason of withdrawal after the close of polls.”

Questionable views against the youth

Cardema also has a record of denouncing student activists and youth groups even if he used to be a youth activist before.

In 2018, he was criticized after he proposed to remove the scholarships of “militant” students.

In January 2019, he similarly ordered the 400,000-strong Sangguniang Kabataan officials to report all youth leaders who engage in activities too critical of the government’s policies and views to the NYC.

Last February, he attempted to justify his plan of removing the scholarships of “anti-government” students by sharing misleading photos of street rallies online.

The photos he showed were old and not initiated by youth groups.

Senator Panfilo Lacson and former NYC commissioner Dingdong Dantes also disagreed with Cardema’s decision to be the Duterte Youth representative.