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Duterte Youth wants probe into alleged 'NPA recruitment' in campuses

Controversial party-list group Duterte Youth debuted in Congress with a call for a probe into the alleged recruitment of members from campus groups by the communist New People’s Army (NPA)

The resolution was filed just two days after its nominee, Ducielle Cardema, took her oath of office on Monday, October 13, as representative for the group in the 18th Congress. 

In House Resolution No. 1293 filed on Thursday, October 15, Duterte Youth said it wanted to investigate the matter “to finally…resolve this most serious issue” for the security of the Philippines and to “protect millions of Filipino youth.” 

Duterte Youth sought to make a distinction in organizations it would probe, saying the purpose of a prospective House investigation was not to investigate groups "critical of the government."

“The patriotic intention of this investigation is for the Philippine Congress and the Filipino people to finally find out which front organization are recruiting for the New People’s Army, for clearly the NPA has no visible recruitment centers in cities and school and are just using non-NPA-named front organizations to recruit for them,” it claimed.

On Thursday, Bayan Muna Representative Ferdinand Gaite criticized Duterte Youth's actions on Twitter, saying it was endangering the youth through a "communist witch hunt."

Why does this matter?

The agenda of probing youth groups with suspected links to Leftists was an advocacy of its chair and former first nominee, Ronald Cardema, the husband of incumbent nominee Ducielle.

Ronald became controversial for his aggressive stand against the progressive movement when he was youth commission chair. 

As former chairperson of the National Youth Commission, Cardema called on all Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials to "fight" leftist youth groups. He also asked President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an order revoking government scholarships of “rebellious scholars.” 

Cardema himself had wanted to become a representative in Congress and filed a last-minute substitution bid to replace his wife as the group’s first nominee in the 2019 elections. 

He eventually canceled his nomination, while the Commission on Elections (Comelec) later disqualified him for being over the age limit to sit as youth representative.

Cardema's ambitions were criticized across the political spectrum as a "brazen attempt" to enter Congress.

Contested party

Duterte Youth assumed its seat over a year after the 2019 elections, following the Comelec's decision to issue it a certificate of proclamation in October 2020 . 

The poll body voted to proclaim the organization as a winner in the midterm elections despite two serious petitions that challenged the validity of the group and its nominees. 

The move was blasted by election lawyers who warned doing so would be the “most unconstitutional act” in the Comelec’s 80-year history since Duterte Youth would be the only group to sit in Congress without meeting constitutionally-mandated publication requirements to be considered a validly registered party-list. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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