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Finally, Makabayan bolts House majority

By: - Reporter / @deejayapINQ
/ 07:46 AM September 15, 2017

The leftwing Makabayan bloc on Thursday announced its split from the administration-controlled “supermajority” in the House of Representatives, saying it would act as an independent group that would fight what it described as an emerging dictatorship.

Makabayan broke its ties with President Duterte in the wake of the rejection of the appointments of former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano by the Commission on Appointments and the stalled peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

“Today, we, seven party list representatives of the Makabayan Bloc, declare our separation from the Majority Coalition in the House of Representatives to intensify our opposition to the Duterte administration that has now fully unraveled as a fascist, pro-imperialist and antipeople regime,” the group said in a statement.

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The bloc is composed of Antonio Tinio and France Castro of ACT Teachers, Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis, and Sarah Elago of Kabataan.

‘New dictator’

The group vowed to defeat the “emergence of a new dictatorship,” saying the Duterte government has been trying to undermine institutions that served as a check to his powers.

“As an independent bloc in Congress, we will continue to pursue meaningful reforms and oppose measures that harm our nation and people,” the group said.

“We shall build alliances based on issues that truly matter to our people and their demand for change. We shall fight the fascist US-Duterte regime and hold it accountable for its gross violations of human rights and the further oppression and impoverishment of our people,” it added.

Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas showed reporters his exchange of text messages with Tinio where he told the ACT representative he respected and accepted the group’s decision “with a heavy heart.”

Malacañang took note of Makabayan’s decision to leave the majority.

“We were hopeful that they would remain open to working together with the Administration, particularly on pro-poor, pro-people issues,” said presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.

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Peace talks

The group said it was encouraged by the President’s “reformist and populist actions and pronouncements” early in his administration, including resuming peace talks to end nearly 50 years of insurgency, the release of political prisoners, ending “neocolonial” ties with the United States, addressing the roots of the Moro rebellion and other pro-poor policies.

However, the bloc said it also opposed Mr. Duterte’s policies where it had fundamental disagreements with such as the violation of human rights in the counterinsurgency campaign and the war on drugs, which “has turned into a campaign of mass murder of the poor.” The group said it also resisted the “rehabilitation” of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the President’s “propensity for strongman rule.”

The Makabayan’s split has created another minority faction in the 293-member chamber in addition to the 18-member group led by Minority Leader Danilo Suarez and the “Magnificent Seven” group of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman. —WITH A REPORT FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA

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TAGS: Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, Makabayan bloc, Philippine news updates, President Duterte
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