MANILA (UPDATE) - Former youth commissioner Ronald Cardema on Saturday accused an election official of demanding cash and favors, saying the accreditation of his group Duterte Youth Party-list was being withheld as they have not given in.
During the group's first general assembly in Quezon City, Cardema, Duterte Youth's disqualified nominee to the House of Representatives, called on President Rodrigo Duterte to help them, accusing Commissioner Rowena Guanzon of asking for money and favors.
Guanzon has been vocal about her opposition to 34-year-old Cardema's nomination, which the Commission on Elections (Comelec) canceled as the law requires youth representatives to be from 25 to 30 years old.
She has also accused Cardema of being behind death threats against her and her family.
But, facing the media, an emotional Cardema came out with his own allegations against Guanzon.
"Nanawagan kami sa Pangulo, nanalo po ang Duterte Youth Party-list-- hindi po kami pinapaupo at inaaway po kami araw-araw ni Commissioner [Rowena] Bing Guanzon dahil ang akala ng lahat napakagaling ng interpretasyon niya sa batas sa pagiging makabayan niya," Cardema said.
(We are calling on the President, Duterte Youth Party-list won but we are not being allowed to take our seat [in the House] and Commissioner Bing Guanzon is picking a fight with us every day because people think she is being patriotic with her brilliant interpretation of the law.)
"Hindi kami pinapaupo dahil hindi namin maibigay ang mga hinihingi na under the table," said Cardema.
(We are being barred from taking our seat because we can't give what's being asked from us under the table.)
"Kami ay sakal-sakal sa leeg dahil hindi kami makapagbayad ng mga hinihingi niyang mga pabor at pera," said Cardema.
(We are being choked because we can't give the favors and money being asked of us.)
Cardema made the claims following his renomination by the party-list group. Guanzon warned the seat the Duterte Youth won in the May elections might remain empty for insisting on Cardema as their first nominee.
In a timeline released to the media, Duterte Youth claimed that Guanzon's "emissary" asked for "favors and money" from Cardema on Jan. 16, saying "that the only way to get Duterte Youth approved is through majority vote."
At the time, Duterte Youth claimed, they knew they already had four sure votes for their party-list accreditation.
On Jan. 25, the same emissary allegedly called Cardema again and "tries to make it appear that Comm. Guanzon's signature (5th signature already) is the determining factor for the approval of the Duterte Youth Party-List and forces Ronald Cardema to "keep end of the bargain."
Cardema also claimed that the emissary told him that Duterte Youth would get Guanzon's signature on its accreditation if he lobbies for the appointment of a regional trial court judge in Iloilo and a Department of Public Works and Highways regional director.
He said the emissary was "from Congress."
"Paano ka di magtitiwala? Kilala sa Kongreso na talagang 'yan ang bag woman niya. 'Yan ang taga-deal ni Commissioner Guanzon sa Kongreso. Matalino ang babae hindi siya mismo ang haharap pero kongresista mismo ang taga-deal," Cardema said.
(Why will you not trust? It is known in Congress that that's her bag woman. That's the one who makes deals for her in Congress. The woman (Guanzon) is smart, she won't be the one to face you but her deal-maker from Congress.)
But Guanzon denied this, saying in a tweet:
"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?" she said.
She said Cardema was provoking her to inhibit from the case. She asserted she would not.
The commissioner also pointed out that Cardema contradicted himself, saying the failed nominee made his allegations when he was still youth commissioner.
"Note his allegation that the incident occurred early 2019 when he was still NYC (National Youth Commission) Chair. Is he saying he was engaging in partisan political activities while he was NYC Chair? ," Guanzon said.