Cardema and Edsa

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

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 “antigov­ern­ment” 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./sun­star Cebu

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