Colmenares not ruling out working with Robredo despite exclusion from slate

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Colmenares not ruling out working with Robredo despite exclusion from slate
This undated photo shows former Rep. Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna party-list), a senatorial aspirant, on the campaign trail in May 2019.
Colmenares campaign

MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares said Friday that he is not ruling out the possibility of working with Vice President Leni Robredo despite his exclusion from her senatorial lineup for the 2022 elections.

“My non-inclusion in her slate does not preclude us from continuing engagement and cooperation with her campaign on urgent issues that concern our people,” Colmenares said in a statement shortly after Robredo announced her pick to complete her Senate slate.

He said the most urgent of these issues is to prevent the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos from returning to Malacañang and a possible extension of President Rodrigo Duterte’s rule amid the pandemic which continues to batter the country.

"Our differences notwithstanding, let us not lose sight of the bigger fight before us. It is my hope that we continue to work together to defeat the forces of tyranny and corruption," Colmenares said.

Colmenares was one of four or five nominees for Robredo’s 12th pick for the Senate, alongside Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula, who ended up being Robredo’s choice for the slot which she reserved for a representative of marginalized people.

Makabayan not endorsing a presidential bet yet

While Colmenares had been in touch with Robredo’s camp, he and the leftist Makabayan coalition that he leads have said that they have yet to meet with the vice president in person.

It is for this reason, Makabayan said, that they have not yet endorsed Robredo or any other presidential aspirant as they would want to continue discussions on key platforms and programs while pushing for the broadest unity possible to defeat Duterte and Marcos.

It is not clear why Robredo, who has also been advocating for a broad coalition of political players to crush Duterte and Marcos in the polls, did not personally meet Colmenares and members of Makabayan.

However, Colmenares did say that former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a senatorial candidate in Robredo’s ticket, objected to his inclusion in the vice president’s Senate lineup.

In response, Trillanes raised that Makabayan had not endorsed Robredo.

Labog: Why just one slot for marginalized?

Elmer "Ka Bong" Labog, chair of labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno and a candidate for senator, welcomed Matula's inclusion in Robredo's senatorial lineup, saying he has long been an ally in the labor movement.

He said, however, that it was a mystery that only one slot was given for canddiates from marginalized sectors.

"Hindi naman siguro kalabisan na hanapin ng taumbayan na magbibigay si VP Leni ng mas matimbang na pagpapahalaga, goodwill at good faith sa mga progresibo  at sa mga pwersang lumalaban sa rehimen, buhay man ay ialay," he said.

(I don't think it's too much for the people to expect that VP Leni would give more value, good will and good faith to progressives and to forces opposing this regime, even at the cost of their lives)

Labog said that while Robredo missed the chance for a slate that would better represent marginalized sectors, this makes progressive blocs more determined to form a "more progressive and nationalistic ticket that will oppose Duterte [and] Marcos and will bring the struggle of basic sectors towards victory."

He said he is confident that that slate will be formed in coming weeks or months.

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