MANILA, Philippines – Bayan Muna partylist Representative Neri Colmenares on Wednesday, September 30, declared his senatorial bid for the 2016 elections.
In his speech, Colmenares hit President Benigno Aquino III and administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas while he openly declared his support for the tandem of Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero, who, he said, are the front runners in both presidential and vice-presidential preference surveys.
“Si Presidente Aquino at si Mar Roxas pinili ang negosyo bago bayan. Limang taon na ang Daang Matuwid, umunlad ba ang buhay ninyo? Ang Daang Matuwid ay isang malaking panloloko sa sambayanan,” Colmenares said.
(President Aquino and Mar Roxas chose business over the country. Daang Matuwid has been here for 5 years, did your lives improve? Daang Matuwid is a big lie to the people.)
Colmenares, a 3-term congressman, said he would be running under the principle of “pulitika ng pagbabago” or politics of change.
The leftist leader said he would push for the Freedom of Information law, anti-dynasty law, and policies promoting nationalism.
Poe and Escudero were all praises for him and said Colmenares is needed in the Senate.
“Wala man ako sa tabi nya pero nasa unahan niya ako para tiyakin na maayos ang kanyang tatahakin papuntang Senado,” Escudero said. (Even if I am not beside him, I am in front of him to ensure his road to the Senate is clear.)
He even joked, “Dalangin ko lang po sa pagpasok ni Neri sa Senado sa 2016 ay di na kami magkita roon.” (I only pray that when Neri wins in the Senate in 2016, we would no longer see each other there.)
Poe, for her part, thanked Colmenares and the Makabayan bloc for strongly supporting her in the 2013 senatorial race.
She further said the goals of the Makabayan bloc are in line with her own agenda.
“Hindi sila kaiba sa akin dahil madami na rin kaming naisulong kasama sila – FOI, pagkain para sa mga bata, benepisyo para sa mahihirap,” Poe told reporters after the event.
(They are not strangers to me because I have pushed for several laws with them – FOI, food for children, benefits for the poor.)
NPC, Erap support
While Colmenares said he is running to push for change, some people who attended his declaration are old-time politicians, except for Poe.
Former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada formally endorsed Colmenares for the Senate, even if the Makabayan bloc called for his ouster in 2001.
“Nakikita ko ngayon na nagkakasundo na kami. (I see now that we are in agreement.) Past is past. The weak cannot forgive, but forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. I always forgive. I want to remain strong,” Estrada said.
Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) president and Isabela Representative Giorgidi Aggabao formally declared the party’s support for Colmenares, lauding the latter’s supposed competence.
Colmenares was earlier spotted in an NPC gathering with Poe and Escudero. The tandem is believed to be supported by the NPC.
“Pero mas mahalaga po siguro naririto ako para ilahad sa inyo na ang partido Nationalist People’s Coalition, ang pangalawang pinakamalaking partido ay sumusuporta sa kandidatura ni Neri Colmenares para sa Senado,” Aggabao said in his speech.
(But more importantly, I am here to tell you that the Nationalist People's Coalition, the second largest political party, is supporting the candidacy of Neri Colmenares for the Senate.)
Aggabao told Colmenares he need not campaign in Isabela province, as he is already a sure winner there. After all, Aggabao said Isabela is “NPC country.”
While Aggabao said the party has yet to decide, a source privy to the party’s affairs said NPC is already set on endorsing the two but could not openly do so because some members have to “fix” matters with the ruling Liberal Party. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org