Ronald Cardema withdraws as Duterte Youth nominee as 'sacrifice'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 16) — Former National Youth Commission chair Ronald Cardema has formally withdrawn his bid to be a congressman under the Duterte Youth Party-List.

Cardema, who was the first nominee of the winning youth party-list, filed his notice of withdrawal before the Commission on Elections and Duterte Youth board of directors on September 13. It was shared by Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon on Monday.

He said that despite the group's confidence the poll body will side with them on their pending motion for reconsideration after the 34-year-old Cardema was disqualified to represent the Duterte Youth for being overage, he decided to withdraw his nomination so the party-list can finally take its seat in the House of Representatives.

"With all humility, I withdraw from my nomination to sacrifice myself for our party-list so that the Comelec can immediately release the Certificate of Proclamation of the Comelec-approved succeeding nominee and to give justice to the votes of 350,000 Filipinos," he said in the notice.

In August, Duterte Youth submitted a new list of nominees, with Cardema's wife, Ducielle Marie, as the next nominee after him. She previously withdrew as first nominee of the party-list saying she could "no longer fulfill the expectations set forth by the party." Cardema, who was then chairperson of the National Youth Commission, filed a bid to replace his wife.

Cardema said he made the decision to withdraw his most recent nomination because of alleged harassment by Guanzon, whom he claimed is corrupt.

"Until now we were not able to take our duly-proclaimed seat in the Philippine Congress because of the public harassment towards me of Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon," he said.

Cardema earlier accused Guanzon of extorting P2 million in exchange for his party-list group's accreditation in the May 2019 elections. Guanzon has vehemently denied the accusation and has vowed to file a libel complaint against Cardema.

She said that Cardema's latest accusations are libelous.

The poll executive had ordered an investigation into Cardema’s possible liability for misrepresentation. The law states that a nominee of the youth sector, which the Duterte Youth party-list represents, must not be more than 30 years old. Cardema is 34. This was among the reasons his substitution bid was rejected, preventing the Duterte Youth from assuming its seat in the House of Representatives.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body has received Cardema's withdrawal.

"The COMELEC will be studying this submission and will, in due time, formally inform the public of its actions, if any, moving forward," he said.