Cardema withdraws as Duterte Youth's nominee

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After months of asserting the validity of his congressional bid before the Commission on Elections (Comelec), embattled Duterte Youth chair Ronald Cardema withdrew his own nomination as the party's first nominee.

In a notice of withdrawal filed on Friday, September 13, and shared to media by Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon on Monday, September 16, Cardema said: "I, Ronald Gian Carlo Cardema...hereby present to our party and to the Comelec my intent to withdraw from my nomination as the first nominee of the Duterte Youth Party-List."

Why withdraw now? Cardema had pointed to Guanzon's "public harassment" against him as reason for his withdrawal, accusing the outspoken poll commissioner of showing "clear bias" and using her office to "harass... slander and destroy" the party's reputation in public. (READ: Comelec's fiery commissioner: Who is Rowena Guanzon)

Things turned ugly between Guanzon and Cardema, with the two locked in a word war after the Comelec 1st Division – which Guanzon is part of – cancelled his nomination last August. Since then, Cardema has made corruption and extortion allegations against Guanzon, who had voted against his party-list nomination. (READ: Guazon on speaking out vs Cardema: It's my duty to defend Comelec)

read Carema's notice of withdrawal under Oath. ako pa rin saw ang dahilan. S T U P I D pic.twitter.com/iAdoeuMU5i — Rowena V. Guanzon (@commrguanzon) September 16, 2019

 The former youth commission chair went as far as saying he would consider filing an impeachment complaint against Guanzon though he didn't cite any grounds for a complaint nor offered proof of any impeachable offense committed by the commissioner.

Guanzon earlier denied the claims and said Cardema is simply making up stories to cover the fact that he's not qualified to sit as a representative in Congress. At 34 years old, Cardema breaches the age limit to sit in Congress as representative for the youth sector, who must be at least 25 to 30 years old. (READ: Stretching the rules: Duterte Youth's bid for Congress)

Responding to Cardema's notice of withdrawal, Guanzon said: "Ako pa rin daw ang dahilan. S T U P I D." (I'm still the reason. STUPID)

Where things are now: Cardema's new motion for withdrawal comes after he earlier filed a motion for reconsideration asking the Comelec en banc to reconsider the cancellation of his nomination as the party's first nominee.

While no decision has been made by the Comelec en banc, Cardema said he was making the "personal sacrifice" of withdrawing his nomination so the poll body could release Duterte Youth's certificate of nomination "to give justice to the votes of 350,000 Filipinos whom we desire to immediately serve."

Cardema then thanked the Comelec and its commissioners as he appealed for his withdrawal to be "viewed as a fresh start" for the poll body and Duterte Youth.

In a statement on Monday, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body will study Cardema’s submission and “in due time, formally inform the public of its actions, if any, moving forward.”

Despite this, Duterte Youth is not yet in the clear as youth group Millennials PH, along with election lawyer Emilio Marañon III, lodged a petition against the party’s second withdrawal and substitution of nominees. The petition was backed by former poll chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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