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13-year challenge




Tonyo Cruz

Tonyo Cruz

The new year unveiled a new trend called the 10-year challenge. It asks netizens to post two photos, one from 2009 and one from 2019, to show how their looks have changed. I’m joining today with a 13-year challenge.

Let’s compare the 2006 views of then-dismissed PMA cadet Ronald Gian Carlo L. Cardema, and the 2019 declarations of National Youth Commission chair and CEO Ronald Gian Carlo L. Cardema.

In 2006, Cardema released an open letter in which he said his uncle Noel Capulong Sr., who was deputy regional coordinator of BAYAN Southern Tagalog, was killed by the military and police during the GMA administration.

He said two military agents from Camp Eldridge in Los Banos, Laguna, conducted surveillance against his uncle, members of the Military Intelligence Group of ISAFP for the 2nd district of Laguna.

He wrote in his open letter, parts of which I have translated into English: “I will soon return to the PMA, and I am worried about the news that GMA aims for the total annihilation of the CPP-NPA-NDF and leftist groups. Her aim proves that she does not care for Filipinos who she should actually faithfully serve.

“She treats American rapists better. She doesn’t say anything about their crime and, worse, she protects them through legal technicalities and considers rape as mere ‘friendly fire’. But it is actually an Act of Aggression against our Race and our Dignity. And yet she wants to annihilate fellow Filipinos who aspire for change in the rotten system of government and society…

“Her plan to add one billion pesos in funds for killing fellow Filipinos will fail, and so will her selfish and self-serving plans. For every Filipino who would be killed, more will take his place. The activists from among students, farmers, workers, entrepreneurs, church people, and professionals would be compelled to join the armed struggle. Likewise, for those who have been silent.”

Cardema’s 2006 letter landed him interviews, like one with Bulatlat.com’s Alexander Martin Remollino.

Asked about his views on restive and rebellious military officers, Cardema replied: “Technically these are beyond the boundaries of the Constitution, but we all know that what they are fighting for, their views, their idealism, are correct. The Constitution does not provide for these types of action, but we have seen that they didn’t do that to demand money or whatever: they were demanding benefits not only for themselves but also for their foot soldiers.”

Cardema said further: “The ones who did those actions were among the best of the best. Lt. Senior Grade Antonio Trillanes IV was the Honor Committee chairman when he was a cadet at the PMA. He was in charge of maintaining honor in the ranks of the cadets. Those who joined the Magdalo group were usually among the top ten in their classes… They were the really battle-tested ones: most of them are Marines, Scout Rangers, Special Forces – they are the ones who lay their lives on the line in the battlefield, and they really realized the problems.”

On the issue of counter-insurgency, Cardema told Bulatlat.com:

“Even if you finish them all off, all those against the government, you can’t kill off the ideas. Their views would only make a greater dent on the consciousness of the people.

“The budget for counter-insurgency should not be increased, because we are not sure whether the money would indeed be used for counter-insurgency. It might only be used for political killings.”

About “all-out war” against the communists, Cardema declared:

“I don’t think the government will win it. Because I have read that during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos, there was already an all-out war, against the Moros and against the communists. That was Martial Law, and however much power the military had then, it lost the war. The people they called ‘enemies of the state’ grew in number and strength. Based on that experience, I can’t really say whether the government can hope for victory now.”

Lots have happened in the 13 years between 2006 and 2019.

The past few years, Cardema chaired the Bongbong Marcos Youth group, which later metastasized into Duterte Youth. President Duterte appointed him  NYC chair and CEO, with the rank of assistant secretary.

In his official bio published at the NYC website, Cardema said he served as political consultant to 17 members of Congress, won a national quiz bee, and was awarded by the military with a plaque of recognition.

Nowadays, Cardema echoes the government propaganda that it is communists and leftists that cause problems in the country, while defending the rising tyranny, corruption, treason, and incompetence. He has not called out Duterte for working closely with Arroyo. Neither has he castigated Duterte’s martial law and counterinsurgency operations.

Cardema eggs youth leaders from the Sangguniang Kabataan to fight fellow youth who happen to belong to what he views as “leftist groups.” Yes, the same groups his murdered uncle Noel Capulong Sr. belonged to.

Just 13 years is needed to see the transformation of a former youthful activist.



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