In the plenary debate on Tuesday (September 27) during the House of Representatives’ deliberation on the 2023 proposed budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel moved to defer the budget of the National Youth Commission (NYC) unless its chairperson, Ronald Cardema, resigns.
This was after allegations of mismanagement of funds and corruption within the agency, which the management of NYC has failed to address.
“Walang saysay ang deliberations para sa budget ng [NYC] hangga’t ganoon ang tipo ng pamumuno kaya, Mr. Speaker, we call for the resignation of NYC Chairperson Ronald Cardema, kung hindi po siya magre-resign dahil kumakapit siya sa kanyang posisyon, dapat palitan na siya,” Manuel said.
(We would be just wasting our time discussing the budget for NYC if the leadership stays the same, that’s why, Mr. Speaker, we call for the resignation of NYC Chairperson Ronald Cardema, if he would not voluntarily resign because he is clinging to his position, he should be replaced.)
“[H]anggang siya po yung nandyan sa NYC (For as long as he’s in the NYC), we move to defer the deliberations on the 2023 proposed budget of the [NYC] that rigs of corruption and is not reflective of youth leadership in this country,” Manuel added.
However, Leyte 5th District Rep. Carl Cari, who sponsored the DILG budget, said that the department has no power to appoint a new chair at the NYC.
“As the co-sponsor of the [NYC] budget, under the law, the authority to appoint includes the authority [to remove] if the President of the Philippines decided that NYC leaders are not capable of carrying out the NYC’s vision, mission, and goals and objects, then only the President of the Philippines has the authority to have them remove,” Cari said.
The House Committee on Appropriations was then tasked to exercise oversight function on NYC so that debates on the budget of the DILG and other agencies would push through.
Manuel’s motion was then laid on the table for future consideration.
Reports of alleged corruption and mismanagement of funds in NYC have been made under former President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointees in the youth commission.
In 2018, the Commission on Audit (COA) ordered NYC to refund unauthorized extra compensation and excessive reimbursement of meals and travel expenses and flagged its incorrect credits of compensatory time and special day off, inappropriate leave credit monetization, and excessive travel and meals.
In 2019, former NYC Chairperson Ice Seguerra criticized his successor, Cardema, for apparently using his chairpersonship position and government resources to campaign for Duterte Youth Party-list, where he tried, and failed, to substitute to become its representative in congress.
In the same year, COA also flagged NYC for spending too much – P9.333 million out of P10.405 million in project funds – yet it wasn’t able to complete its projected activities under its anti-drug and HIV-prevention programs.
In 2020, the NYC Employees Association (NYCEA) sent an appeal letter to then-President Duterte, urging him to remove then-NYC Chairperson Ryan Enriquez for alleged abuse and usurpation of authority, violation of the security of tenure, and harassment, with 120 Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and student organizations backing the letter.
COA also found more than six months old unreleased and uncashed checks worth P291,000, but not reverted back to the youth commission’s cash account.
It also flagged NYC for unfaithful representations of their financial statements, like inventory items and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) totaling P141,000, and other items that cost less than their original price.
COA also flagged for its hiring of 51 contractual workers and paying them P8.9 million despite their job responsibilities already similar to existing positions within NYC.
In the 2021 Annual Audit Report, COA flagged the NYC for diverting up to P2.714 million of its 2021 budget to support the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
The funds, according to COA, were supposed to be spent for the training of youth leaders under the Sangguniang Kabataan Mandatory and Continuing Fund, and rehabilitation efforts for Marawi under Task Force Bangon Marawi.
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.
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