Disqualified Duterte Youth party-list nominee Ronald Cardema (left) holds a press conference yesterday to bare allegations of extortion against Commission on Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.
Boy Santos
Cardema accuses Guanzon of extortion
Edu Punay, Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - August 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Disqualified Duterte Youth party-list nominee Ronald Cardema yesterday accused Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon of extorting favors, supposedly for the earlier accreditation of their group.

Turning the tables on Guanzon, who recently accused him of grave threats, Cardema claimed to be a victim of Guanzon’s unlawful act.

During the assembly of Duterte Youth in Quezon City, Cardema alleged that Guanzon’s camp asked for favors in exchange for the party-list group’s accreditation.

Specifically, he alleged that Guanzon ­– through an emissary, a member of the House of Representatives whom he did not name – demanded the appointment of a lawyer as regional trial court judge in Iloilo.

During a press conference, Cardema presented screenshots of messages from Guanzon’s alleged emissary.

“Akala ng lahat siya pinakamatino pero siya ‘yung maraming hinihingi (Everybody thought she is the most honest, but she is actually had the most demands),” he claimed.

The former National Youth Commission chair also vehemently denied any hand in the death threats received by Guanzon following the decision of the poll body disqualifying him as a nominee of the party-list group due to his age.

“Yung mga sinabi ni commissioner na threats, napaka-imposible yun. Hawak nya kami sa leeg ng ilang buwan (Those threats claimed by commissioner were very impossible. She was controlling us for several months),” he also alleged.

Cardema claimed that he even voluntarily reported the death threats against Guanzon to the National Bureau of Investigation. 

“Kami biktima dito pero sa media kami ang masama (We are the victims here, but in the media we are the bad guys),” Cardema stressed before breaking down in tears.

He said he was unable to address the challenge by Guanzon to publicly denounce the threats and deny the allegation, citing the gag order issued by the poll body on their group.

Last week, Cardema appealed the Comelec ruling last Aug. 5 canceling his Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) due to material misrepresentation.

The group is seeking to represent the youth sector, which should have nominees between 25 to 30 years old. Cardema is 34 years old.  

In his appeal, Cardema argued that the case should be resolved by the House Electoral Tribunal since the party-list group already won congressional seats in the midterm elections. 

The Comelec en banc is expected to resolve the appeal next week. 

Provocation

Guanzon vehemently denied Cardema’s allegations, saying he is just trying to provoke her so he can seek her inhibition from the case.

“I will file a libel suit but I can’t file now because he will move to inhibit me if I do ... He is baiting me to file a libel so i have to inhibit myself. I will not inhibit,” she said, referring to the motion for reconsideration filed with the division.       

Guanzon said Cardema’s strategy is to attack when he does not get what he wants. “That’s why I believe he is responsible for threats to harm me and my family,” she said.

The Comelec commissioner challenged Cardema to identify the lawyer she wanted appointed as a judge.

“He fabricated that.  It is easy to get a list of applicants from Negros or Iloilo.  They thought I am from Iloilo, I am from Negros,” she said. 

Guanzon said Cardema is not in a position for her to seek his help in any way. 

“Why, is he the president? Can he appoint a judge … If I want someone appointed, I will ask someone else, not him,” she added.

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS EXTORTION RONALD CARDEMA ROWENA GUANZON
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