On 9 February, leaders of Bidang, the alliance of indigenous and peasant women’s organizations in Abra, joined other Abra leaders in Bangued in formulating the Abra People’s Agenda for the upcoming national elections this May.
The launch of the Abra People’s Agenda was timely for the opening of the campaign for national candidates. Defining the People’s Agenda has become a practice of organizations wanting to influence the platform of politicians. Abra leaders Villamor Pati and Stella Lomioan of Kastan and Bidang respectively were one in saying that politicians are so spoiled, only getting our votes. Pati stressed that only politicians who will subscribe to our People’s Agenda will get our votes. Lomioan added that the People’s or Women’s agenda is the evidence of what politicians shall fulfill once in office.
The Abra Peoples Agenda consisted of very basic demands of 1)ensure food security and agricultural services; 2) achieve employment security and decent wages; 3) fulfilment of basic social services of education, health and basic infrastructure; 4) protection and fulfillment of human rights including women and migrant’s rights and achieving peace; and 5)transparency and accountability in government systems. Another elder Rodrigo Mina reiterated that while these are basic demands and should have been there long time ago, they are hardly fulfilled in a system where politics is ruled by gold, guns and goons and Abra is one hot spot. The leaders are aware of how dirty, corrupt and violent elections in the country is, yet in them is the opportunity for public awareness-raising on and mobilizing for politics of change concretely expressed in a People’s Agenda, committing votes only for those who subscribe to the People’s Agenda and delivering for truly pro-people national candidates.
Joining the Abra leaders meeting is Caridad ‘Caring’ Bachiller, an Abrenan who has joined the progressive Makabayan bloc being the 3rd nominee of the Migrante Partylist. Mother Caring as she is fondly called spent 32 years abroad as an overseas Filipino worker. She spent 6 years in the Middle East and 26 years in Hong Kong. She helped found ATIS or Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society which turned 23 years last year. She returned to Abra for good last year but she did not leave her passion for the rights and welfare of migrant workers. Since she went home, she ran the Migrants Desk of the Diocese of Bangued and maintains a migrants radio program with DZPA in Bangued. Her passion reunited her with her earlier passion of teaching in Catholic schools in Abra for 6 years before she went overseas. Mother Caring inspired the meeting pointing out that solutions come from the people, not from the government. Her OFW years speak of so much truth in her statement.
The Abra leaders also took the chance of pledging their full support to the platform and candidacy of Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares to the Senate. The Abra leaders expressed no doubt in sending Colmenares to the Senate as a “fighter ti umili idiay Senado” acknowledging his long years of lawyering for the people and ever consistent and bold by taking the people’s issues to the halls of Congress and in the streets during his 9 years as Bayan Muna representative. Colmenares’ latest fight was the legislation of an additional P2,000.00 per pensioner of the Social Security System which was rejected by the Office of the President. # nordis.net