SEVEN STRONG: Cardema (R) and six other members of the Duterte Youth hold up a banner during a Black Friday protest against the burial of the remains of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November 2017
The STAR/Ghio Ong, file
Original Duterte Youth nominees unwilling, unready for Congress
( - May 23, 2019 - 4:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — Duterte Youth fielded people who were either unwilling or unready for work at the House of Representatives, documents on their withdrawal as nominees suggest.

In an interview on CNN Philippines on Thursday, Ronald Cardema—former National Youth Commission chairman and presumptive first nominee of the party-list—said that the original nominees decided to back out because they were afraid of debates with leftist lawmakers in the plenary hall.

Cardema said that they wanted him to step in because he allegedly has more experience in debates with leftists.

In her notice of withdrawal as a nominee, a copy of which was obtained by,  Cardema's wife Ducielle Marie said she has "objectively passed on the responsibility to the leadership of the party whose compassion and expertise are more fitting and would be mutually benificial for the party in terms of pushing and lobbying for policies that may have a strong impact to the youth and professionals that the party represents."

Private life preferred

Duterte Youth's second nominee Joseph De Guzman, meanwhile said in his notice of withdrawal that he would rather be away from the public eye despite accepting the party's nomination last year.

"I see myself rather working unnoticed and supporting the political stance of the party away from public opinion," he said in the notice, which was notarized on May 10, the same day that all other nominees had theirs notarized.

The party's third nominee Benilda De Guzman said that her passion is teaching and that it is "something I treasure the most and cannot be replaced for it is not just a profession but a calling I shared with young minds over considerable years."

She said she was withdrawing to leave policy-making to "the intelligent minds...that will help propel the ideologies of the party."

Arnaldo Villafranca, the party's fourth nominee, meanwhile said that he was withdrawing "to fulfill my obligation to my family under normal and ordinary ways of living where privacy and familial life is being maintained."

Work abroad

The fifth nominee, Elizabeth Anne Cardema, said she will be pursuing "employment opportunities abroad where I can join my relatives and friends [that] seem to offer promising experience." She added that the Duterte Youth's seat would be better served "by people who are more capable and possesses passion for policy-making which I lack the most."

The notices of withdrawal were prepared by the same notary public on the same day.

The party-list won one seat at the House in the 18th Congress.

Cardema, who was NYC chairman until the Palace deemed him resigned from office because of his last-minute bid to take over as Duterte Youth representative, has been attending events for party-list nominees.

Commission on Elections chairman Sheriff Abas said Wednesday night that the commission en banc had already accepted Cardema's petition. 

Abas said the Comelec only ruled on whether the substitution petition was submitted in time. "Whether or not eligible siya o hindi, ibang usapan iyon (Whether or not he is eligible is a different matter)," he said.

The Comelec has yet to release the supposed decision and Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon has said that the issue has not been resolved yet.

"I have not signed a [resolution] about giving due course to Cardema's application for substitution but I will dissent," Guanzon said in a tweet, stressing she finds it irregular that the subsitution petition was filed on a Sunday.

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