Palace to Duterte Youth’s Cardema: Why drag us in your fight vs Guanzon?

Mara Cepeda
Palace to Duterte Youth’s Cardema: Why drag us in your fight vs Guanzon?

Gerard Carreon

'Unang-una, wala naman kaming pakialam sa ginagawa [niya]. We will not intrude into anything that does not concern the Palace,' says Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang distanced itself from former National Youth Commission (NYC) chair Ronald Cardema’s extortion accusations against a poll body commissioner, saying the Duterte Youth party-list has the freedom to file a case to back up its charges.

This was the response of Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Sunday, August 18, when he was asked by DZIQ if Macalañang would look into Cardema’s allegations against feisty Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.

“Kung meron siyang corruption charge, mag-demanda siya. He doesn’t have to go to news media about it ‘di ba? Eh ‘di mag-file siya ng kaso. Why does he have to drag the Palace to it?” said Panelo.

(If he has corruption charges, then he should sue. He doesn’t have to go to the news media about it, right? He should file a case. Why does he have to drag the Palace to it?)

The chief legal counsel of President Rodrigo Duterte, after whom Cardema’s party was named, said Malacañang “will not intrude” into Cardema’s fight against Guanzon.

“Unang-una, wala naman kaming pakialam sa ginagawa [niya]. We will not intrude into anything that does not concern the Palace. So that’s between him and Commissioner Guanzon,” said Panelo.

(First of all, we don’t care about what he’s doing. We will not intrude into anything that does not concern the Palace. So that’s between him and Commissioner Guanzon.)

The 34-year-old Cardema held a press conference on Saturday, August 17, to accuse Guanzon of holding his party-list nomination hostage in exchange for political favors he had no official capacity to grant. (READ: Stretching the rules: Duterte Youth’s bid for Congress) 

Guanzon took to Twitter to deny the allegations of Cardema, whom she previously claimed was behind the death threats received by her relatives. 

“Before it was death threats, now extortion. Ano sunod (What’s next), impeachment? All intimidation tactics to coerce me to reverse my vote.  Again, friendly advise, study your case and get a good lawyer. But [you] can’t change your date of birth,” said the Comelec commissioner. 

Guanzon is a member of the Comelec division that canceled Cardema’s nomination as representative of the Duterte Youth party-list, which won a single seat in the 18th Congress. 

The poll body division ruled that Cardema was ineligible as a youth representative, who must be 25 to 30 years old on the day of the elections on May 13.

After Cardema’s disqualification, Guanzon called for an investigation to determine whether he committed “material misrepresentation” when he filed for candidacy, which would amount to an election offense with criminal liability. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.