Robredo in talks with Neri Colmenares, Sonny Matula for inclusion in Senate slate

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Robredo in talks with Neri Colmenares, Sonny Matula for inclusion in Senate slate
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, Vice President Leni Robredo and Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula
Neri Colmenares / Facebook, Philstar.com / Jazmin Tabuena, Sonny Matula / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo is in talks with former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares and Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula for them to be included in her Senate slate in the 2022 elections, Philstar.com learned Wednesday.

Former Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said Robredo’s camp has been negotiating with Colmenares and Matula, who are both eyeing seats in the Senate in next year’s polls.

"I know that they are talking to the group of Sir Neri Colmenares in Makabayan," Baguilat told Philstar.com partly in Filipino. "I think even the group of Partido Manggagawa, Sonny Matula, also their candidate for the Senate."

In a message to Philstar.com, Colmenares said that "talks are ongoing on my inclusion in her slate [but there is] nothing definite yet."

Makabayan has also endorsed Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer "Bong" Labog for senator.

Matula confirmed to Philstar.com that talks with Robredo are still ongoing after opposition coalition 1Sambayan endorsed him to be part of her senatorial lineup. He said Robredo welcomed his inclusion in the slate.

Matula has backed Robredo’s presidential run, but Colmenares and the progressive Makabayan coalition that he is a part of has not categorically stated their support for Robredo’s presidential bid as they remain hopeful for unity among the vice president and other presidential aspirants.

In a statement last week, Colmenares said that Makabayan is "certainly willing to work with her and other non-administration candidates in ending Duterte’s tyranny, preventing a Marcos restoration, and uplifting the country from the catastrophe of the past five years."

But Robredo said last Friday that she is no longer interested in closing ranks with other presidential aspirants as "the focus now is not to unite the principals, but the people."

Matula and Colmenares both ran for senator in 2019 under the Labor Win ticket, a historic alliance of rival labor groups that banded together over their dismay at President Rodrigo Duterte’s failure to fulfill his campaign promise of putting an end to contractualization.

But Labor Win failed to clinch a seat in the 2019 elections, which was swept by candidates aligned with the Duterte administration.

Leody De Guzman, a candidate under the Labor Win in 2019, is running for president under Partido Lakas ng Masa with fellow labor leader Luke Espiritu, who is seeking a seat at the Senate.

Should Colmenares be included in Robredo’s senatorial lineup and if Makabayan endorses her for president, it would be the first time the leftist group would back a presidential candidate from the once-ruling Liberal Party, which they butted heads with during the presidency of Benigno Aquino III.

Makabayan endorsed then Sen. Manny Villar and Sen. Grace Poe in the 2010 and 2016 presidential races, respectively. 

They also allied with Duterte in the early years of his presidency, only for them to fall out over disagreements on peace talks with communist rebels and the brutal anti-drug campaign.

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