By JONAS ALPASAN
MANILA – The seven partylist solons belonging to the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives have declared their separation from the majority bloc in a press conference today, Sept. 14, as they vowed “to defeat the emergence of a new dictatorship.”
The progressive lawmakers said the Duterte administration has “fully unraveled as a fascist, pro-imperialist and anti-people regime.”
“Now that President Duterte and his allies are embarking on efforts to undermine the very institutions that serve as a check on his executive powers, now that he is pushing for an insidious revision of the Constitution, now that he has revived his threat to declare martial law nationwide and impose a revolutionary government, we resolve to intensify efforts to defeat the emergence of a new dictatorship,” the Makabayan bloc said in a statement.
During the recent budget deliberations, the Commission on Human Rights, a Constitutional body tasked to look into human rights abuses, has been virtually defunded when it was allocated a mere P1,000 ($20) for its budget for the next fiscal year. Apart from the CHR, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales are also under attack, with the former facing an impeachment case lodged before the House, dominated by Duterte allies.
In their statement, the Makabayan lawmakers said they were encouraged to join the House Majority last year, consistent with their support for President Duterte’s promise of change and his reformist and populist stance, such as the resumption of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, release of political prisoners, ending ties with the US, pursuing an independent foreign policy, ending contractualization, prioritizing of basic social services, to name a few.
“Thus, from the very start, we consistently opposed the administration’s anti-people bills and policies to the point that we were stripped of our committee chairmanships due to our stand against the death penalty bill. Despite one disappointment after another, we persisted in the Majority in the hope that some socio-economic and political reforms could be achieved, if not through Congress then through the GRP-NDFP peace talks,” the statement read.
However, Duterte has already terminated the talks, turned its back to separate from US, and provided only concessions to farmers, workers, and the urban poor, said Makabayan.
Progressives have also blamed Duterte for failing to support the confirmation of the progressive leaders he appointed to his Cabinet, former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano. The two were rejected by the powerful Commission on Appointments, which is dominated by Duterte allies.
“Worst of all, his ‘war on drugs’ has turned into a campaign of mass murder of the poor, for which he shows no signs of turning back,” the Makabayan added.
Rights groups estimate that around 12,000 have been killed in Duterte’s bloody war against drugs. Recently, Duterte’s war on drugs has stirred public outrage over the killing of a minor, Kian delos Santos.
Makabayan vowed that they will continue to pursue meaningful reforms and measures as an independent bloc in the House of Representatives.