To further its advocacy for genuine change, the Makabayan Coalition will try to send one of its own to the Senate in 2013.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – It’s about time to put a patriotic senator in the Philippine Senate.
This is the vow made by thousands of members and allies of the Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (Makabayan) as they concluded their second National Convention, September 7 at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines gymnasium in Sta. Mesa Manila.
The Makabayan Coalition, comprised of progressive party-list groups such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), Kabataan, Courage, Migrante Sectoral Party, ACT Teachers’ Party, Katribu, Kalikasan Green Party, Suara Bangsa Moro, Piston and Akap-Bata, formally announced that it is fielding Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño as it candidate in the 2013 senatorial election.
“Teddy’s senatorial bid is a big challenge for the Makabayan Coalition,” said Makabayan Coalition President Satur Ocampo.
Casiño is a three termer in Congress as Bayan Muna representative since 2001.
“Makabayan Coalition is a coalition of progressive party-list groups bounded together by the common aim of working for genuine change, which the Filipino people have long been clamoring for. Let us advance the politics of change (politika ng pagbabago) that embodies our program,” Ocampo said, adding that Casiño’s bid for senator on 2013 shows that they are sincere in serving the people.
Lessons from the 2010 elections
In the 2010 elections, Ocampo and GWP Rep. Liza Maza ran for Senate under Sen. Manny Villar’s Nacionalista Party. The two, however, did not make it to the top 12.
Nathanael Santiago, Makabayan’s secretary general said they have drawn valuable lessons from the past elections and learned from it. “Why did we not win? Where did we go wrong?”
“First, Makabayan was not able to counter the Villaroyo issue, which was an outright lie. There was no secret deal between Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Manny Villar,” said Santiago. He added that the Villaroyo issue is meant to destroy the credibility of Villar and Makabayan’s alliance with the latter. If there was a secret deal, he added, it must have been between Arroyo and current President Benigno Aquino III.
“When Aquino became president it took him one year before a case was filed against Arroyo. The case turned out to be weak and so Arroyo was able to post bail. Chances are she might be able to leave the country, too,” Santiago said. The Pasay City Regional Trial Court granted Arroyo’s petition to post bail on the electoral sabotage case because the evidence presented against Arroyo is weak,” the court said.
“In fact,” Santiago added, “The Aquino administration is just a continuation of Arroyo’s. The same anti-people policies are still being implemented.”
Santiago also pointed out the coalition’s lack of manpower in mobilizing and campaigning for Ocampo and Maza. He mentioned the importance of house-to-house campaigns in the barrios and far flung areas to counter the media advertisements that only rich politicians could afford.
“Because we have limited resources, we cannot afford to produce or pay for regular airtime and frequent political advertisements. In Teddy’s 2013 campaign, we would be rigorously campaigning and would visit every barangay and barrio to ensure votes for our candidate.” He said the coalition might have limited resources for paid political advertisements, but if the members will be rigorously and diligently mobilized to campaign for Casiño and other progressive groups, there is a big chance for Makabayan’s candidates to win.
Lastly, Santiago said, Makabayan was not able to counter the black propaganda of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other state security forces. “Many are accusing us of rechanneling our party-list funds to the New People’s Army (NPA). But these are all lies. Our projects in the provinces prove this.”
The regional delegates of Makabayan from all over the country vowed to reach their target of 12.44 million votes for Casiño.
Last May 2010 elections, Bayan Muna, GWP, Kabataan, ACT Teachers Party and Anakpawis won and are able to consistently represent, amplify, and act on people’s issues inside the halls of Congress.
Support for Teddy Casiño
Political allies expressed support for Casiño’s senatorial bid.
Speaking at the Makabayan Second National Convention, House Speaker and Quezon City 4th District Rep. Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte described Casiño as one of the best, most intelligent and most handsome legislators in Congress.
Belmonte said partylist groups under the Makabayan bloc have principles. He said it is about time that a nationalist Senator like Casiño should be placed in the Senate.
Deputy House Speaker and 4th District of Quezon province Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tanada III said he has worked with the progressive bloc in his four terms in Congress on issues concerning human rights and other important bills. Tanada said that although he belongs to the Liberal Party, he considers himself as one of the progressive elements inside the ruling party.
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III also attended the convention and expressed support for Casiño’s candidacy.
“Some would tell me not to support them because they are leftist. I said there’s nothing wrong with being a leftist,” Pimentel said in his speech.
In a video message, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said Makabayan leaders fight for genuine change. “I support Teddy’s candidacy in the 2013 elections. He is a good addition to the Senate if he would be given a chance to win,” Escudero said.
Former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar described representatives of the Makabayan bloc in Congress as the true representatives of the grassroots.
“I have worked closely with Ka Paeng, Satur, Liza, Teddy and also Ka Bel. When I was in Congress I saw their dedication for the advancement of genuine reform and for the betterment of the people’s dire condition,” she said in a solidarity speech delivered in Makabayan’s National Convention.
“I have also personally seen Teddy’s perseverance and dedication in doing good things for the country.” Villar said.
Personalities in the entertainment industry also expressed support for Casiño.
In a video message, TV host Boy Abunda said he wholeheartedly supports Casiño. “I will say this again and again, as long as there is someone who never gets tired of listening, I will always be here to support Teddy Casiño who has a heart for the people. I support him because I am an ordinary citizen who wants real reforms.”
Actor Allen Dizon performed a song during the Makabayan Convention. He expressed his support for Casiño’s candidacy.