Bayan to maintain presence in the streets despite Duterte alliance

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — A leftist organization said that it will continue to oppose anti-people policies and programs in the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte despite their alliance with the new chief executive.

Renato Reyes, secretary general of umbrella organization Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said that accepting government posts does not mean that the Left has capitulated.

"We have not abandoned the struggle. We are not about to fold our banners and streamers. We are more than ever determined to arouse, organize and mobilize now given the favorable conditions," Reyes said in a statement posted on his Facebook account.

Reyes added that the Left is planning a big rally for Duterte's first State of the Nation Address on July 25.

"We shall continue to oppose anti-people policies and programs wherever they exist. We shall continue to be visible in the streets," he said.

The Bayan official noted that the president offered Cabinet posts to the revolutionary movement in line with his goal of reviving peace talks.



"Now the [Communist Party of the Philippines] and the revolutionary forces could not just lay down their arms and join the government without having any meaningful peace agreement, because that would be capitulation," Reyes said.

The president later appointed former Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano as secretary of Agrarian Reform, University of the Philippines Professor Judy Taguiwalo as Secretary of Social Welfare and Development and former Gabriela party-list Rep. Liza Maza as chairperson of the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

Reyes said that Duterte is the first president who allowed the Left to have a huge role in the government.

He acknowledged Duterte's three-decade relationship with the revolutionary movement and stressed that the president recognizes the strength of the Left and necessity of engaging it in peace talks. The alliance between the Left and Duterte is based on his pro-people and progressive policies, Reyes said.

'Peace talks more important than Cabinet posts'

The Bayan secretary general admitted that there is a chance for the peace talks to move forward farther in the new administration.

"This is more important than any government post. This is about achieving land reform, national Industrialization, a self-reliant economy, national sovereignty, and a just peace," he said.

Preliminary talks between Duterte representatives and the National Democratic Front in Oslo, Norway have led to a commitment to a resumption of formal peace talks later this month.  

In conclusion, Reyes called on the revolutionary movement's friends and allies to give it and its relationship with the new president a chance.

"Kaunting tiwala lang. We have been struggling for more than four decades and have made great strides in building people's power in many parts of the country," Reyes said.

RELATED: Duterte can handle Cabinet members with different stances – analysts

The Makabayan bloc, which is composed of party-list groups under Bayan, supported Sen. Grace Poe in the May elections. Shortly after the elections, Bayan said that the Duterte administration seemed poised for a "continuation of the neoliberal poison imposed on the people by the Aquino regime.”

This led to Duterte campaign spokesman Peter Laviña accusing the Left of supposedly rejecting "the hands of friendship and cooperation by the incoming Duterte administration by mouthing their usual criticism of others but not undertaking their own criticism, self-criticism." 

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