2022 PH Elections - Voices

[OPINION] On Makabayan’s ‘bewildering’ position on its presidential bet

Teddy Casiño
[OPINION] On Makabayan’s ‘bewildering’ position on its presidential bet
Makabayan has not endorsed the candidacy of any presidential bet. We've had the chance to talk with Isko Moreno and Manny Pacquiao but never with Leni Robredo – despite repeated requests for an audience.

Well-meaning friends and acquaintances, as well as critics and political foes, have been asking me about the Makabayan coalition’s “bewildering” position on its choice for its presidential candidate for 2022.

The three most common questions I get are: Why haven’t you declared support for Leni Robredo? Are you really supporting Isko Moreno? Why are you even talking to Manny Pacquiao and Isko Moreno?

Just to be clear, Makabayan hasn’t declared support for any presidential candidate yet, whether Isko Moreno, Leni Robredo or Manny Pacquiao. One can read the party’s statement, issued last October 16.

It is true that Makabayan has been reaching out to all serious non-administration presidential candidates: Robredo, Moreno Pacquiao. There are three reasons for this.

One, we want a united opposition to the looming Duterte-Marcos alliance in 2022. We believe that if these three candidates can unite under one slate the chances of preventing a Duterte dynasty or the return of the Marcoses to Malacañang will be greater. This is in parallel to 1Sambayan’s efforts to unify the democratic forces for the 2022 elections. 

Two, we want to engage the candidates on their platforms, particularly on matters involving human rights, workers, farmers, indigenous peoples, sovereignty, among others. We believe that only through earnest and continuous dialogue can we contribute in their crafting a progressive platform of governance.

Three, in case a unified opposition slate is not feasible, we want to explore the possibility of working together to end Duterte’s rule or prevent a Marcos restoration in 2022. This would include various terms of cooperation based on the outcome of the first two items, including the possible inclusion of Makabayan’s candidates in their senatorial line ups. 

There is nothing wrong with talking to all three candidates on these three important matters. Other groups should not begrudge nor cast any malice on Makabayan for doing what any progressive political party ought to do.

Robredo snub

It is in this light that Makabayan has not endorsed the candidacy of any of the presidential bets at this time. We have had the chance to talk with Moreno and Pacquiao but never with Robredo – despite repeated requests for an audience. 

To be honest, it would be difficult for Makabayan to ask its constituency to support Robredo when we do not even know her stand on contractualization, the national minimum wage, free land distribution for poor peasants, indigenous people’s rights, the peace process, and a host of other issues that matter to our constituency. To be blunt, how can we rally our constituents behind a candidate who has refused to even meet us?

Some ask, isn’t Makabayan already part of 1Sambayan and therefore bound by it? 

The simple answer is no. The Makabayan coalition is a national political party distinct from 1Sambayan, with its own leadership, national constituency and processes. Of course there are a number of individuals and groups in 1Sambayan that are within Makabayan’s ambit and I believe they have contributed significantly to 1Sambayan’s success. 

Lastly, let me address those critics who say that Neri Colmenares’ non-inclusion in Robredo’s senatorial slate was due to Makabayan’s refusal to endorse her candidacy. It just seems odd and unfair that while other “guest candidates” are allowed the option of not endorsing Robredo, Neri is being told not only to openly support Robredo but for his entire party, a coalition of several party-list organizations, to tow the line.

That is the height of discrimination if not opportunistic politics that we all supposedly abhor. Makabayan is not a major political party but a little respect would be appreciated. – Rappler.com

Teddy Casiño served as Bayan Muna representative from 2004-2013. Prior to his stint in Congress, he was secretary-general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.