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MANILA, Philippines - Advocacies over political convenience.
The leftist Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (Makabayan) made this claim on Thursday, November 8, as it formally endorsed 5 guest senatorial candidates to "reinforce" its lone official senatorial bet Bayan Muna Rep Teddy Casiño.
They are: Senators Loren Legarda (Nationalist People's Coalition), Francis "Chiz" Escudero (Nationalist People's Coalition), and Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III (PDP-Laban); former Las Piñas Rep Cynthia Villar (Nacionalista Party), and Movie and Television Review Classification Board Chairperson Grace Poe-Llamanzares.
"Our sole candidate will be reinforced by other candidates for the Senate based on a history of cooperative relationship with people's issues and advocacies," Makabayan President Satur Ocampo said.
Casiño said the move will also help the other bets' candidacies as their advocacies are complementary and their relationships, already long-standing.
"It will not be awkward. We will not be strange bedfellows in the campaign," he said.
Llamanzares agreed, saying she's known key Makabayan leaders for some time now.
"Ako ang pinakamaikling introduksiyon dito ngunit ang pinagsamahan namin ay napakahaba na rin (I might have the shortest introduction here but our relationship goes from way back)," she said.
On the other hand, Villar said she believes Makabayan will provide a better advantage for the candidates because of its wide voting base.
"Makabayan will help us because sila yung maraming organizations. We can not reinforce their candidacy kasi sila ang mas malaki ang organization," she said.
This year marks the official entry of Makabayan as a legitimate political party after gaining accreditation from the Commission on Elections in May 2012.
A coalition of leftist party-lists Bayan Muna, Anak Pawis, Gabriela, ACT Teachers and Kabataan, and progressive groups such as Courage, PISTON, Migrante, Katribu and Akap-Bata, Makabayan claims to have a voting base of 10 million, based on Ocampo's estimates.
But during the 2010 elections, Makabayan fielded Ocampo and Liza Maza as senatorial candidates with disappointing results. Maza landed in the 25th spot with 3.6 millions votes while Ocampo received a slightly lower number of 3.3 million votes to land in the 26th place.
Its affiliates and members also backed the presidential bid of Sen Manuel Villar, who lost to President Benigno Aquino III.
Makabayan's guest candidates are also included in the Liberal Party-led coalition, the administration ticket. Legarda herself is also a part of the United Nationalist Alliance ticket.
Casiño and President Aquino recently engaged in a word war when the President made a jab at a leftist senatorial candidate who was rating low in the surveys.
With possible complications come campaign proper, Ocampo said there are no formal campaign arrangements as of yet.
"In the course of the preparations for the campaign and the conduct of the campaign, we will discuss the actual campaign and go in accordance kung anong hinihingi ng pagkakataon para matiyak ang panalo (with what the occasion requires to ensure victory)," Ocampo said.
Despite the lack of concrete campaign commitments, Villar said that she sees "nothing wrong" in joining Makabayan in actual campaign activities as they do not present a traditional party set-up.
"They're like any NGO and we go to the affairs of any NGO when invited. I never considered them as a coalition against the LP and the NP. I consider it as like an NGO with advocacy," she said.
"I think that's the campaign I envision it to be. Pupunta sa women, farmers, mga sectoral. I don't see anything wrong with it," she added.
Legarda said it's about time the Philippines take a page out of the recently-concluded United States elections, where campaigns centered on issues rather than personalities.
"Look at the issues. Let's go beyond personality politics. Basahin ninyo ang tatlong pahina ng adbokasiya. Talagang feel na feel. Talagang ramdam na ramdam ko," she said.
"Whatever placard you may be carrying, an Obama or Romney placard, the fact remains that they participated in a democratic process that people outside that country are fighting for, offering their lives so they can fight for it," he said.
Ocampo said the candidates agreed to support the following advocacies:
1. Lowering the prices of oil products, water, power and other basic commodities and services by introducing reforms on taxation and pricing policies
2. Pushing for genuine agrarian reform; pro-people mining policies and environmental protection; equitable minimum wage and salary adjustments in the public and private sectors, subsidy for farmers and fisherfolk, and incentives for micro and small-medium enterprises
3. Increasing budgetary allocations for essential social services such as education, health and housing and reviewing the automatic appropriation for foreign-debt servicing to channel more public funds for social services and job-creation
4. Asserting national sovereignity and the people's interest by thoroughly reviewing to rectify unequal bilateral treaties and agreements, and upholding our territorial and EEZ claims in the West Philippine Sea
5. Working for the passage of the Freedom of Information and Whistleblowers Act, and opposing special treatment in handling criminal cases against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other former officials
6. Seeking an end to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of activisits and journalists; amnesty to all political prisoners
7. Repealing or amending the Cybercrime law and decriminalizing libel
8. Urging the immediate release of detained consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF) and activists involved in the peace process, and pushing for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the NDF. - Rappler.com
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