MANILA, Philippines – Actor and former National Youth Commission (NYC) commissioner Dingdong Dantes did not hold back in criticizing current NYC chairman Ronald Cardema's last-minute effort to be party-list group Duterte Youth's nominee for the 2019 elections.
"Ipinaglaban at patuloy na itinataguyod ng mga opisyal at empleyado ng NATIONAL YOUTH COMMISSION (NYC) ang karapatan at kakayahan ng kabataang makibahagi sa pamamahala, regardless of regime. Huwag nating hayaang madamay at mabahiran ang importanteng institusyong ito na nangangalaga sa kabataan," said Dantes, who was appointed commissioner by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2014.
(The officials and employees of the National Youth Commission continue to fight and work for the rights and capability of the youth to participate in governance, regardless of regime. Let's not allow the institution to be used in means other than taking care of the youth's issues.)
Dantes added that Cardema should have resigned from the post if he really wanted to serve as a legislator in Congress.
"P'wede bang nagising na lang siya isang araw at nag-decide na trip niya? Maaari kasing nagamit ang ahensya upang magkaroon siya ng unfair advantage noong kampanya. Malinaw din naman ang batas kontra sa party list na tumatanggap ng kahit anong suporta o may koneksyon sa gobyerno," Dantes said.
(Did he just wake up one day and decide that he wanted it? The agency could have been used to have an unfair advantage during the campaign. It's clear in the law that party lists should not get any support or have any existing connection in government.)
Should Cardema's petition for substition be approved by the Commission on Elections, that means he will get to serve as a member of the 18th Congress. Duterte Youth is poised to take at least one seat.
If Dantes seems confident about harping on delicadeza as an NYC official, it's because he's walked the talk. He resigned from his post in 2016 to campaign for then presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe and Leni Robredo, who won the vice presidency. For a while, Dantes himself mulled running in the elections but opted out eventually.
The Comelec has yet to tackle the petition but already, groups are opposing it. Despite this, Cardema already updated his Facebook page, labeling himself as an incoming representative.
Dantes also lamented Cardema's supposed abuse of the party-list system, which is intended to ensure that marginalized and underrepresented sectors have seats in Congress.
"Nakakalungkot na bilang pangunahing representante ng kabataan ay lumalabas na nakikisali siya sa pag-abuso at pag-circumvent sa party-list system. Gusto man nating isipin na totoo ang kanyang hangarin, marami siyang dapat ipaliwanag kung paanong nag-withdraw lahat ng nominado ng kanilang Party List at sa biglaan niyang pagpasok bilang substitute ng kaniyang asawa na siyang number one nominee. Eto ba ang values na gusto natin ituro sa mga kabataan?"
(It seems that he's among those abusing and circumventing the party-list system, even if he's supposed to be among the primary representatives of the youth. While I want to think that his intentions are pure, he has a lot to explain, like how all the nominees of the party list suddenly withdrew and he suddenly came in to replace his wife as the number one nominee. Are these the values we want to teach the youth?)
He then told Cardena the obvious – that if he wants to serve the youth, he's already in the best position to do so. "Just ask Chairman CY Diño Seguerra, whom I respect so much," said Dantes, referring to former chairman Ice Seguerra, whom Cardema replaced.
"Kaya nag-resign ako, kasi, hindi ko na maibigay ang 100% ko sa serbisyo. The Filipino youth deserves someone na makakapagsilbi nang buong puso, katawan, utak, at kaluluwa."
(The reason I resigned was because I could no longer give my 100% in the service. The Filipino youth deserves someone who can serve with a whole heart, body, mind, and soul.)
Cardema, whose term would have expired in August 2020, was appointed NYC chair in August 2017.