WHO is this person? What are his credentials? Where did he come from?
These were the questions raised about National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairman Ronald Cardema after his controversial statement recommending that President Rodrigo Duterte revoke the scholarships of “anti-government” students.
It turns out it is not difficult to find the background of Cardema and to see what drives him. A quick online search showed this.
Two years ago, Cardema became known to the public when his “Duterte Youth” group confronted singer Jim Paredes, a staunch critic of Duterte, during the 31st anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution at Edsa.
Tension ran high as Cardema’s group appeared while the People Power personalities were holding their anniversary event. Cardema with the “Duterte Youth” and Paredes were face to face but nothing untoward happened. Paredes later posted on Twitter that he had an “enjoyable” confrontation with them and it was “satisfying to shut them up.”
Days after the confrontation with Paredes, “Duterte Youth” members received pins from government declaring them as “Republic Defenders.” Then, six months later or in August 2017, Cardema was appointed to the NYC.
That background shows his motive when he said last week that Duterte should issue an executive order revoking the scholarships of students who have links to the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front.
There lies his loyalty and, as a “defender,” he can silence critics without regard for due process, or so he must think.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo immediately rejected the proposal, saying mere suspicion of being against the Duterte government is not enough basis for stripping students of their state scholarships. You will need “concrete, legal, and reasonable” basis, Panelo said.
Cardema was then deluged with calls for his resignation or for him to take a leave of absence. The latest to ask him was the poll watchdog Kontra Daya that said Cardema’s links to the “Duterte Youth,” now a party-list group, give this party-list candidate undue advantage in the May 13 midterm elections.
The Kontra Daya said Cardema is chair of the “Duterte Youth” and his wife, Ducielle Marie Suarez, is its first nominee. Elizabeth Anne Cardema is its fifth nominee but the poll watchdog didn’t mention how she is related to the NYC chief.
“Doesn’t this pose a conflict of interest, given his position in government?” it asked.
A manifesto of unity by student leaders and their organizations from around the country has demanded the same. It said, “The NYC chair has a distorted sense of self-worth, as shown by his arrogance in maintaining that he will not resign or apologize for his wrong deeds.”
Cardema had said he is not resigning as his statements were simply misinterpreted.
We know that the youth is the future of our country. Let Cardema be inconsequential to our tomorrow.