Makabayan bloc to Duterte: We're not funding the NPA
MANILA, Philippines – Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate on Thursday, August 11, denied that party-list representatives under the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives are funding the New People’s Army (NPA).
“Dine-deny ng Bayan Muna at ng Makabayan bloc na pinopondohan namin ang New People’s Army. Kung meron mang finafund ang Bayan Muna nung meron kaming PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund), ito ‘yung mga no permanent address people, ‘yung mga mahihirap, ‘yung mga nasa lansangan. Nagtayo kami ng mga health care facilities, mga eskuwelahan,” said Zarate.
(Bayan Muna and the Makabayan bloc are denying the accusation that we are funding the New People’s Army. If we funded anyone when we still had the PDAF, they were the people who had no permanent address, the poor, those found on the street. We put up health care facilities and schools.)
He was referring to lawmakers’ controversial pork barrel fund now deemed as unconstitutional.
“Matagal na ho itong paninira lalung-lalo na nagmumula sa mga militar at anti-peace groups (This is a long-time demolition job coming form the military and anti-peace groups),” added Zarate.
His statement comes a day after President Rodrigo Duterte alleged that some party lists at the House have links with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and are funding its armed wing, the NPA.
Duterte told the 1st Infantry Division in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur on Wednesday: ”Mao gani ang party list, dili nako musugot. Ug dili hawakan sa isa ka pamilya... Ang kanang mga party-list – kay pila ra gud ang P200,000 – naa pud ang komunista diha (That’s why I will no longer allow party lists in Congress. If it is not being represented by a family....Those party lists – P200,000 is just a small amount – the communists are with them, too).”
"Katong usa, ilang representation sa ilang mga guards, security guards, anak ug dakong – binuang na. Dayon gamitun sa NPA ang kwarta nila, asa man muadto? E ‘di didto sa ilang grupo. Mamalit ug armas, tabang ngadto sa ilang mga kaalyado. Mao na diha," Duterte added.
(A party list of security guards is being represented by a child of a big – that’s a joke. Then, the NPA will use its funds, where will the money go? It will go to their group. They will buy arms to their allies. That's how it is.)
The President was referring to Ang Galing Pinoy, the party list once represented by Juan Miguel Arroyo, the son of former president and Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In the 15th Congress, the younger Arroyo was one of the wealthiest congressmen.
The Commission on Elections disqualified Ang Galing Pinoy in 2012 for failing to properly represent security guards, tricycle drivers, farmers, and small businessmen.
On Thursday, Zarate urged Duterte not to be misled by some accusations made against party lists, which the President wants to abolish under a new Constitution.
“We hope that President Duterte would not be misled by military propaganda against progressive party-list groups. At any rate, our track record of serving the marginalized would speak for themselves,” said Zarate.
Allies but still independent
Apart from Zarate, the Makabayan bloc is composed of ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro; Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao; Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas; and Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago.
They are currently allied with Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) at the House.
"We are allies pero hindi rin nawawala ang aming independence (but we have maintained our independence)," said Zarate
He added that while they disagree with Duterte’s latest accusation concerning the NPA, the Makabayan is acknowledging the reasons behind the President’s intention to abolish party lists.
“Tama naman ‘yung punto niya na mukhang na-bastardize na ‘yung party list system. Ang mga nakakapasok ngayon sa Kongreso ay’ di na nagre-represent ng mga sectors,” said Zarate, who suggested that the party list system be amended, not completely junked.
(His point was right when he said that the party list system is being bastardized. Some of those who are able to enter Congress do not really represent their sectors.) – Rappler.com