Palace: Don’t involve us in Akbayan-Bayan Muna rowBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda Friday said the criticisms against the reported P14-million donation of President Aquino’s three sisters to Akbayan party-list group was actually an offshoot of the long-standing rivalry among so-called national democrats, a term by which communist groups refer to themselves.
“We know the political spectrum when it comes to the left. There’s the extreme left and those who reject (Communist Party of the Philippines founder) Jose Ma. Sison. This is their row,” Lacierda said.
He said “this intramural” between Akbayan on the one hand and the Bayan Muna, Bayan and all the satellite groups all stem from the split that occurred in 1993.
“Both were ‘natdem’ (national democrats) but they broke off,” Lacierda told reporters.
“There are two camps right now—the rejectionist, those who reject Jose Ma. Sison, and the reaffirmist, those allied with Jose Ma. Sison,” he said.
Lacierda said Akbayan and Bayan should thresh out their differences without involving Malacañang. After all, he said Malacañang had not denied its alliance with Akbayan, which he said shared the administration’s advocacy on behalf of marginalized sectors.
Not about closeness
Lacierda said the issue was not about Akbayan’s closeness to President Aquino because even before he came to power, the two factions had been bickering.
“They were together in the streets. But we all know that Akbayan and Bayan Muna had this dispute from the start,” he said.
Among the reasons that several civil society groups, including those identified with Bayan, gave for petitioning the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify Akbayan was that many of the latter’s members have been appointed to key agencies in government.
They include presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas, Joel Rocamora, head of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, and Commission on Human Rights Chair Loretta Ann Rosales.
Other Akbayan members in government are Barry Gutierrez, Llamas’ deputy; Mario Agujo, member of the Government Service Insurance System board; Social Security System Commissioner Daniel Edralin; National Youth Commission Commissioner Percival Cendaña; and Angelina Ludovice-Katoh, commissioner in the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.
Risa Hontiveros, who formerly represented Akbayan in the House, is one of Aquino’s handpicked candidates for senator running under the ruling Liberal Party.
After the Comelec disclosed that the President’s sisters donated P14 million to Akbayan in the 2010 elections, Bayan members came out swinging against Akbayan and Malacañang.
“That’s true. Ronald Llamas is there. Who’s denying that? Go on with your fight, but don’t involve the Aquino administration,” he said.
Better for the rival groups to hold a debate, he said.
“They are tainting Akbayan right now because they think it’s an effective way of diminishing Akbayan. Let them come out with their debates. Let both come out with the truth,” he said.