MANILA, Philippines – The beleaguered aspiring politician Ronald Cardema had just accused her of political harassment, and poll body Commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s first response was to tweet a picture of rat poison.
“I will not inhibit from the cases of Cardema. Period,” the caption read.
I will not inhibit from the cases of Cardema . period. pic.twitter.com/sUVysFEWx8 — Rowena V. Guanzon (@commrguanzon) August 17, 2019
On Saturday, August 17, Cardema claimed Guanzon, through an “emissary” from Congress, tried to earn political favors from him in exchange for the approval of his Duterte Youth party-list’s accreditation for the May 13, 2019 elections.
However, the favors Cardema claimed Guanzon was asking – appointments to posts in a regional trial court and the public works department – were not within any of Cardema’s official capacities as then-chief of the National Youth Commission.
Cardema denied he was behind death threats to Guanzon and members of her family, saying the poll executive was "playing the victim.”
Guanzon took Cardema’s move as an attempt to influence her position as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc is set to deliberate his appeal to overturn his disqualification as his party-list’s first nominee to the House of Representatives.
“Cardema held a presscon accusing me of demanding a favor in exchange for registration of his PL (party-list). Wey?! Didn’t I vote yes to the registration of his PL? How come no judge related to me was appointed?” Guanzon said in another tweet.
Cardema held a presscon accusing me of demanding a favor in exchange for registration of his PL. wey???! Didn't I vote yes to the registration of his PL? how come no Judge related to me was appointed? — Rowena V. Guanzon (@commrguanzon) August 17, 2019
Guanzon has openly opposed and criticized Cardema for attempting to “circumvent election laws and Comelec rules.” Her division of the poll body cancelled Cardema’s nomination as Duterte Youth’s representative.
At 34, Cardema is 4 years over the legally mandated age limit for youth representatives in the government.
He filed his substitution as Duterte Youth’s first nominee only on the eve of the elections, after all of the party-list’s original nominees withdrew their nominations.
Guanzon said it was a “clear attempt” at flouting the law, and she accused Cardema of material misrepresentation, a criminal offense, for claiming he was eligible for the post he was running for.
A friendly advise to @RonaldCardema he should study his case and get good lawyer. Imagine a former @COMELEC Chairman is opposing him. — Rowena V. Guanzon (@commrguanzon) August 17, 2019
In yet another tweet, Guanzon tagged Cardema: “A friendly advise to Ronald Cardema, he should study his case and get a good lawyer. Imagine, a former Comelec Chairman is opposing him.”
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.