By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY — Various groups in the Cordillera region welcomed the founding Thursday at UP Diliman in Quezon City of a nationalist political coalition which will field senatorial and local candidates for the 2010 election.
Called MAKABAYAN (or Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan), the founding of the coalition is considered timely. Its platform of governance tries to address the political and economic crises besetting the country.
Among the participants from this city was former Councilor Jose Mencio Molintas, also a member of the expert on indigenous issues of the United Nations Permanent Forum (UNPF), Manuel Loste of Bayan Muna Party List – Cordillera, Flora Belinan of Gabriela Party List and Migrante, Cordillera.
“In the present situation of the country where leaders have failed to address the issues of the people, the birth of Makabayan is an alternative choice, it will guide and allow a studied choice of candidates that people may vote for come election day in 2010,” said Flora Belinan, a long time overseas worker in Hongkong, who now heads the Migrante in the region.
Even the senatorial bets who have kept clean tract records and a history of uncompromised leadership in the advancement of people’s issues in government can now be endorsed by the coalition to the voting public, added Belinan.
Bev Longid, chair of the militant Cordillera Peoples Alliance agreed with Belinan. “It is about time that we elect them (senatorial bets) in the senate. They are makabayan in words and in deeds. And the choices are no longer limited to the trapos (traditional politicians),” she added.
Another member of a legislative body in Mountain Province welcomed the new coalition.
“The politics of issues which will be carried by MAKABAYAN will open an alternative choice for the people and mainstream the politics based on issues and not on personalities,” said Jaime Dugao, a Sangguniang Bayan member of Sagada, Mountain Province.
On his part, Dugao claimed that the platform of governance will be carried by local leaders in the pursuit of their constituents’ issues and welfare.
Even the urban poor groups in this city cited the need for such a coalition that would carry the issues of the people.
“Past elections where we participated had not actually addressed our problems, particularly on land and housing problems. Politicians usually who we have supported fail to fulfill their promises and we again encounter the same problem every year. We want to try this time by joining a coalition led by leaders with respectable track records,” said Ignas Pangket, a leader of the urban poor sector in this city who attended the MAKABAYAN founding.
In a press conference held after the coalition’s founding assembly, MAKABAYAN co-chairperson and economist Maita Gomez declared: “As of now, we are proposing at least four possible candidates for the Senate. Patuloy silang pinagkakatiwalaan ng masa dahil itinataguyod nila ang pulitika ng masa,” Gomez said.
Gomez revealed the initial four as House Deputy Minority Leader Satur Ocampo, Reps. Liza Maza (Gabriela Women’s Party), Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis) and Teodoro Casiño (Bayan Muna).
Rep. Ocampo meanwhile said that they are “all open to the proposal and are still scouting for other possible candidates who are willing to embrace MAKABAYAN’s patriotic and pro-people orientation.” Ocampo is popular in the Cordillera due to his support on indigenous people’s issues and human rights.
MAKABAYAN’s general platform for the 2010 elections hinges on peoples empowerment, transparency and accountability in governance, uplifting the lives of the poor, developing a strong and self-reliant domestic economy, a more equitable distribution of wealth, saving our environment, defending our sovereignty, upholding human rights and pursuing a just and lasting peace.
For her part, Rep. Maza said that the coalition “is opposed to all moves to further impair democracy and national sovereignty through charter change. We vow to prosecute Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and top Arroyo officials for plunder and corruption, human rights abuses and other crimes committed under her administration.”
Among those who attended MAKABAYAN’s launching program were Former Senate President Manny Villar, former Speaker Jose de Venecia and wife Gina, Senators Mar Roxas, Francis Pangilinan and Jamby Madrigal, Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte;
Former Senator Leticia Shahani, Atty. Harry Roque, Atty. Evelyn Ursua, Renato Constantino Jr., National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, Director Joel Lamangan, Reps. Teofisto Guingona III (Bukidnon), Rodolfo Plaza (Agusan del Sur), Del de Guzman (Marikina City), Matias Defensor (Quezon City), Abigail Binay (Makati City), former Ambassador Roy Seneres and wife Minerva, former beauty queen Maria Isabel Lopez, Marichu Maceda, Quezon City Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista, former and incumbent municipal and city officials from different cities and provinces, regional officers of party-list organizations and respective leaders of national people’s organizations.
Former Pres. Joseph Estrada, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, Brig. Gen. Danny Lim, and representatives of Ang Dating Daan also sent messages of solidarity to the founding assembly.
Meanwhile, according to sources, MAKABAYAN local formations are to be organized in the Cordilleras and Ilocos regions where possible candidates of respectable track records and willing to carry the “people’s agenda,” will spearhead. A strong formation in the city is expected to start on various issues, including land and shelter, livelihood, and those of various sectors to be entered in their platform. # nordis.net