The Bastardization of Youth Representation in Congress

The youth continues to be the hope of the motherland. But in order to be capable in representing a youth party-list, they should have decency and ability to lead and inspire the sector. 

For many years, political pundits have lamented how the party-list system has been bastardized by political dynasties to expand their power in Congress. Former NYC Head Ronald Cardema has taken the abuse of the party-list system to a whole new level by attempting to raid the House of Representatives as a Youth Representative.

On 12 May 2019, Cardema filed a petition for substitution to replace the five original nominees of Duterte Youth party-list. By this time, Duterte Youth may have been proclaimed as a winning party-list group with at least 1 seat in Congress. During the campaign period, Cardema was still Chairperson of the National Youth Commission; hence government resources may have been tapped directly or indirectly in the campaign of Duterte Youth where he serves concurrently as Chairperson. It is important to note that government officials in the civil service are not allowed to partake in any partisan political activity during the election season.

Election of party-list representatives was meant to provide underrepresented and marginalized sectors, organizations and parties with a legitimate voice in government through Congress. Cardema already had that voice in government as NYC’s Chairperson. However, he opted to use his position to launch tirades against youth organizations critical of the administration and accuse these leftist groups as allies of the New People's Army, instead of advancing the youth’s pressing concerns and interests.

The Government and its resources should not be used to launch a vendetta against any individual or group who choose to air their grievances and criticisms against the government, as long as these are done within the boundaries of law. Otherwise, our police and military organizations have the duty to file charges against individuals and groups who perform criminal acts, particularly those against public order as defined in the Revised Penal Code.

Furthermore, genuine youth representation cannot be provided by the 33-year-old Cardema as the Party-list Act states that a nominee of the youth sector "must at least be 25 but not more than 30 years of age on the day of the election.” If Duterte Youth party-list was meant to represent the Youth & Professionals sector as Cardema claims, the party-list should have been named as the 'Duterte Youth and Professionals Party-list.' Cardema is clearly circumventing the arguments to propel himself into power through the Duterte Youth party-list.

The Youth continues to be the hope of the motherland. However, Cardema is clearly unfit and incapable of representing the youth as he does not have the fundamental decency, delicadeza and exuberance to lead and inspire the sector towards productive engagement and citizenship. Cardema is a divisive leader instead of a unifying one.

The Youth needs leaders who will represent their aspirations for improved access and quality of education, increased jobs, and improve peace and order. The Youth will not recognize a representative who sows and cultivates a culture of divisiveness and hatred among the sector.

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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