By MARYA SALAMAT
Weeks of speculation that progressive party-list groups are aligning with the Nacionalista Party and would be supporting the candidacy of Senator Manny Villar finally ended when Representatives Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza formally announced last November 24 their decision to run for the Senate as independent candidates. They will not run as part of the senatorial lineup of the Nacionalista Party (NP) which until last week had seemed like a possibility. It met “a stumbling block” with the formal alliance of the NP and the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) and the declaration of Congressman Bongbong Marcos’ senatorial candidacy under this alliance, Ocampo and Maza said in a joint statement.
Cong. Lisa Maza and Cong. Satur Ocampo (Photo by Raymund Villanueva / bulatlat.com)
“We were surprised by Villar’s statements about ‘forgetting the past,’” Ocampo explained. The last time they had talked about the platform of government with Villar, the latter had shared with Makabayan (Patriotic) the commitment “to pursue indemnification of human rights victims of the Marcoses and recovery of their ill-gotten wealth”, among others, Ocampo said.
Makabayan is a coalition of eight progressive party-list groups. Ocampo and Maza are running for the Senate under Makabayan.
What Villar and Marcos are saying now with the NP-KBL alliance is that “Marcos issues are no longer issues in this election,” Ocampo said. But in pursuing good governance and ushering in real changes, one could not just allow a past or present president to claim that he or she is innocent even if there are evidences to the contrary, Ocampo said.
Every past and present president had claimed they were innocent, said Ocampo. As example he cited Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted by the Filipino people and yet, his son is now trying to exonerate him. Joseph Estrada was likewise ousted from the presidency and had even been convicted of plunder, yet he too declared he is “innocent.” Numerous charges of corruption, election cheating and extra-judicial killings hound Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, yet, she too claims to be “innocent,” said Ocampo.
“If good governance is to be pursued,” said Rep. Ocampo, “all previous and present presidents must be made accountable to the crimes they committed while in office.”
Ocampo and Maza also expressed concern that through the NP-KBL alliance formalized last week, the “practically already dead KBL party has been resurrected and put on equal footing with the NP.” Previously, only Bongbong Marcos and his mother, Imelda Marcos, lead KBL as chair and secretary-general, respectively .
Why would a major party make an offer to a repudiated party? asked Rep. Ocampo. In a joint statement he issued with Rep. Maza, Ocampo described KBL as “the moribund party that was founded by the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos and which supported and benefited from his 20-year fascist rule” while NP was “virtually obliterated by Marcos’ one-man, one-party dictatorship. “
With this “Covenant of Alliance” between NP and KBL which Ocampo likened to a “hard slap in the face for human rights victims of the Marcoses,” it has become “untenable” for him and for Liza Maza to join the NP slate. Hence their decision to run for senator as independent candidates.
The last time the Left fielded candidates for the senate was in 1987 under the Partido ng Bayan (PnB or Party of the People). Among the senatorial candidates they fielded were ex-political detainee Nelia Sancho, labor leader Alex Boncayao, urban poor leader Trining Herrera, ex-detainee and former NDF spokesperson Horacio “Boy” Morales, human rights lawyer Romeo Capulong and opposition leader Charito Planas.They lost amid charges of massive fraud and terrorism directed against them. Many PnB supporters were also reportedly killed during the campaign.
More Can Still Happen
Despite the NP-KBL stumbling block, the senatoriables from Makabayan said they are still open to “continuing engagements with presidentiables” particularly from the opposition. They still have unfinished talks with presidentiables whose platform they want to influence– to “give substance to their calls for change,” Rep. Ocampo explained.
Ocampo and Maza were also in talks with Liberal Party, they said. They have showed each other their platforms and discussed Hacienda Luisita issues as well as other issues that need closure. Although it looks like the possibility of them running with LP has dimmer prospects, they regard LP as a “kasangga” in calling for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation or ouster.
Villar has already committed to some important issues but his sincerity is currently being tested, Ocampo said, as Villar vacillates “in his commitment to pursue indemnification for the Marcoses’ human rights victims and in recovering the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth.”
Though Ocampo and Maza under Makabayan are in talks with the opposition’s leading candidates, they or Makabayan have not decided yet who to endorse. “It depends on who will accept most of our platform,” Ocampo said, adding that a lot can still happen between now and the campaign period and the elections. He forecasted more realignments and movements in the future.
An independent run under the Makabayan coalition will pose a great challenge, Maza and Ocampo admitted. But they said they are up to the challenge. “We will fight the good fight,” said Liza Maza.
These challenges include meager resources and intense political repression of progressive partylists and organizations. This early, Rep. Ocampo said military commanders of 103rd Infantry Brigade have reportedly been electioneering and telling people not to vote for progressive partylists. In Surigao City, Bantay and ANAD representatives Jovito Palparan and Jun Alcover had warned the people against allowing allies of New People’s Army to win in the elections.
“All these are not new to us,” Rep. Ocampo said. They have experienced such in past elections from 2001 to 2007.
“We can score victories for our candidates. We can turn around the situation through building of alliances,” Rep. Satur Ocampo said. As they pledged their determination to run for seats in the Senate, he said they will also link up with others who share their standpoint. “Our reasons for running for senator are clear; our basis is our platform. Everybody who wants to support our platform is welcome to join.”