Kabataan solon irked by ‘gatecrasher’ Cardema in QC forum; ‘He wasted our time’

Published October 2, 2022, 4:15 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel expressed his frustrations over the “repetitive points” raised by National Youth Commission (NYC) Chair Ronald Cardema when he gatecrashed a forum on Saturday, Oct. 1, where the lawmaker was the guest speaker.

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel (left) and National Youth Commission (NYC) Chair Ronald Cardema (right) during the Pandesal Forum held in Quezon City on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Photo from Kamuning Bakery Cafe via Facebook)

Manuel found himself at the receiving end of Cardema’s rants against the New People’s Army (NPA), who he alleged to have the support of Kabataan, after the lawmaker earlier accused the youth commission of corruption and mismanagement.

The lawmaker was supposed to tackle his group’s plans during the “Pandesal Forum” on Saturday, Oct. 1, but he was surprised by the sudden presence of Cardema who gatecrashed the event held at the Kamuning Bakery Cafe in Quezon City.

The topic for the forum was “Goals, Activities, Projects, Plans & proposed Reforms of the #Kabataan Party-list for the Filipino Youth” but Manuel was forced to engage in a verbal tussle with Cardema over allegations of corruption in NYC and the latter’s accusations that the party-list group is supportive of NPA.

In a tweet, Manuel lamented how the youth commissioner “wasted our time with repetitive points.”

“Sabi ng NYC Chair, lalampasuhin daw niya ako sa debate. Eh wala namang debate (The NYC Chair said he would defeat me in a debate. There was no debate); he gatecrashed a forum where I was guest. He wasted our time with repetitive points,” he wrote.

“Sabi niya, titiyakin niyang matatalo ang Kabataan PL sa 2025. Eh siya nga, di nakapasok sa Kongreso kasi (He said he will make sure Kabataan will lose on the 2025 party-list [elections]. How about him, he didn’t enter Congress because he is) overaged (smiley emoji),” Manuel added.

Cardema was disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as representative of Duterte Youth because youth sector party-list representatives must be between 25 to 30 years old. Cardema was then 34 years old.

During Saturday’s forum, Cardema was supposedly only messaging his questions but seemed to be “unsatisfied” so “he just went to the venue and up the stage.”

READ: NYC’s Cardema gatecrashes forum; gets into ‘unscheduled’ heated debate with Kabataan Rep

“Nagsalita ako kahapon. Tinanong ko bakit mo sinasabi na corrupt at mismanaged ang NYC. Wala ka man lng binanggit kung sino nagkurakot sa NYC (I talked yesterday. I asked why were you saying the NYC is corrupt and mismanaged. You didn’t even mention who is corrupt in NYC),” he said.

Manuel, however, earlier said it is up to the NYC to get to the bottom of the problem, citing reports from the Commission on Audit (COA) about corruption in the youth commission.

Cardema continued accusing Kabataan Party-list of not condemning the NPA despite Manuel already stating earlier in the forum that the group is against all forms of violence and that the party-list had never encouraged the youth to take up arms against the government.

“Number one question: ang NPA ang nire-recruit puro kabataan. Hindi naman senior citizens ang nire-recruit nun so ang aking question sa (the NPA keeps on recruiting the youth. It is not recruiting senior citizens so my question to) Kabataan Party-list, Congressman Raoul Manuel, bakit sa dami-daming nang nire-recruit na mga kabataang Pilipino ng NPA, bakit hindi nyo kinokondena ng diretso ang NPA (why, despite the recruitment of so many Filipino youth by the NPA, why aren’t you condoning (sic) the NPA directly)?,” he asked.

In a statement posted on Facebook, forum moderator Wilson Lee Flores said he couldn’t stop Cardema “who just walked in & went up the stage.”

“I just tried to facilitate a courteous, healthy & amicable exchange of ideas. Apologies for the sometimes heated words, which I tried to calm down,” he said.

To strike a balance, Flores stressed that he “tried to ask Chairman Cardema to disavow the dangers of blanket, indiscriminate red-tagging by some in government while I also solicited from Kabataan partylist Congressman Raoul Manuel his public disavowal of support for armed struggle by the rebels.”

“Sincere apologies to our guest speaker and also even to our uninvited guest, if any shortcomings in my trying to be a referee,” he added.

Before the forum ended, Manuel and Cardema were photographed shaking hands, with the former tight-lipped and the latter smiling at the cameras.

During the plenary debate on the 2023 proposed budget by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Sept. 27, Manuel moved to defer the budget for the NYC unless Cardema resigns.

He alleged of massive corruption and mismanagement in the NYC, which Cardema said during the forum was unfair for Manuel to talk about in Congress because he had immunity there.

Reports about corruption in the NYC began in 2018 when the Commission on Audit (COA) ordered it to return unauthorized extra compensation and excessive reimbursement of meals and travel expenses.

The youth commission was also flagged for incorrect credits of compensatory time and special day off, inappropriate leave credit monetization, and excessive travel and meals.