“Principles, not plunder. Platform, not personality.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Progressive bloc Makabayan Coalition has formally announced the candidacy of Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares for senate during its convention at the San Andres Sports Complex in Malate here, today, Sept. 30.
“Make me your voice in the Senate. Now is the right time,” Colmenares said, addressing an ecstatic crowd.
Colmenares is serving his third and last term as representative for progressive partylist Bayan Muna.
In a smaller gathering on Sept. 1, the Neri for Senator Movement was launched at the Quezon City Sports Club. Colmenares agreed to run as senator, long demanded by colleagues, friends and relatives, including actress Angel Locsin, his aunt (though they consider themselves as cousins).
“I never dreamed of becoming a senator,” he said.
Colmenares jested that while he is neither famous nor handsome, people still came to support his candidacy because they believe in the cause of the Makabayan Coalition.
In his speech, he vowed to pursue and fight for policies that would implement national industrialization, agrarian reform, and bring just and lasting peace in the country. Colmenares, who is also one of the authors of the anti-political dynasty bill, said “walang forever” to the Congress long dominated by elite and landlords.
“I will not let you down. I will push for politics of change no matter how hard it seems,” Colmenares said, assuring the audience that he will not enrich himself in position.
Colmenares is among the poorest lawmakers. His net worth, as stated in his 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, amounted only to about P2.3 million, a far cry from rich lawmakers that fall from nearly a billion and above.
The atmosphere inside the San Andres Sports Complex was festive. The crowd that nearly filled the 6,000-capacity sports complex cheered “Neri! Neri! Neri!” as they waved red balloons and posters supporting Colmenares’ bid.
During the program, partylist lawmakers under the Makabayan Coalition took turns in expressing their support for Colmenares.
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luz Ilagan likened elections to pursuing a pihikan (choosy) woman and that Colmenares, whom her fellow lawmaker Emmi de Jesus said is a staunch ally in their fight for consumer rights, deserves their “sweet yes.”
Apart from fellow lawmakers from the Makabayan Coalition, Colmenares was endorsed by Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero, who both earlier announced their bid for president and vice president, respectively.
Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, who is also the Nationalist People’s Coalition president, was among those who joined the convention to endorse Colmenares, along with ousted president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
In an apparent reference to the now-blockbuster biopic, Heneral Luna, Colmenares said, “Bayan, hindi negosyo. Prinsipyo hindi pandarambong. Plataporma hindi personalidad (Principles, not plunder. Platform, not personality).”