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Colmenares: Elections under Duterte transcend political parties

/ 09:44 PM February 20, 2019
Duterte promoting ‘intolerance of dissent’ in the country — Colmenares

Former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares (File photo by KIMBERLY DELA CRUZ / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Updated @ 10:50 p.m., Feb. 20, 2019, to add quotes

MANILA, Philippines — Will the ancient proverb “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” hold true in the 2019 midterm elections?

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Bayan Muna chair and Makabayan senatorial bet Neri Colmenares said on Wednesday he was open to forming alliances with other opposition groups to beat the common opponent — or the senatorial line-up backed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“I’m always open for that,” Colmenares told reporters when asked if he would consider being a part of the Otso Diretso coalition.

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“You know hindi naman kami ‘dilawan,’ ako naman kritikal lang po ako. ‘Pag tama, tama. ‘Pag mali, mali,” he said.

[You know, I am not really part of the yellows. I am only critical. But if it’s right, it’s right. If it’s wrong, then it’s really wrong.]

“Pero ngayon, ang politics ng Duterte administration is really an immediate threat — hindi lang sa oposisyon kung hindi sa mamamayan. So panahon talaga [na] magkaisa sana ang lahat. So open po ako dyan,” he added.

[But now, the politics of the Duterte administration is an immediate threat — not only to the opposition but to citizens. So it’s time to unite. So I’m open to that.]

Colmenares said the unity coalition Otso Diretso — composed of the Liberal Party (LP), Akbayan, Magdalo party-list, and Aksyon Demokratiko — share his stand on various issues, including human rights, extrajudicial killings (EJK), Duterte’s policy on the West Philippine Sea, and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

At a press conference of Otso Diretso last Feb. 12 in Caloocan, activist and comedienne Mae Paner suggested that the only way to beat the Duterte slate and her daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, would be to unify all opposition candidates.

READ: United opposition only way to defeat admin slate – Juana Change  

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Colmenares and Otso Diretso members have been bugged by questions regarding a coalition ever since they signified their intention to run for the 2019 midterm elections, largely due to the ties that bind the two groups.

After the Liberal Party announced his candidacy, former Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada visited the proclamation of Colmenares as the official Makabayan bet.

Tañada, however, insisted that it was only in support his fellow lawmaker and the organizations built by his grandfather, former Sen. Lorenzo Tañada.

READ: Ex-solons: Possible LP-Makabayan coalition not ‘Yellows’ and ‘Reds’ affair 

The link between lawyers Colmenares and Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno are well established as both oppose extrajudicial killings.

Meanwhile, Samira Gutoc appeared in a photo with Makabayan member and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago. They are both calling for respect for human rights.

But with or without a coalition, Colmenares said he was thankful for the support of people who back Otso Diretso.

“Kahit na hindi naman pa nagkakaroon ng gano’ng fusion sa ngayon, I’m still very happy that marami naman sa Otso Diretso ay very supportive sa akin. May nagsasabi na ‘Lucky Nine.’ Yung iba ‘Swabe ang Nueve.’ It could be anything basta eight plus one,” he explained.

[Even if such a fusion won’t happen, I’m still very happy that many in Otso Diretso have been very supportive of me. Some said the fusion should be called “Lucky Nine.” Others said “Swabe ang Nueve.” It could be anything, as long as it’s eight plus one.]

“At least, na-transcend ‘yong political parties. So I’m open. And I’m thankful na may nagta-transcend na rin from the supporters from Otso Diretso,” he added.

[At least, we have transcended political parties. So I’m open. And I’m thankful that some supporters of Otso Diretso have also transcended them.]

The opposition, however, has a lot of work to do, if the results of latest surveys are to be believed.

According to a recent Pulse Asia survey held from January 26 to 31, if the elections were held around this month, only two members of the opposition would enter the Magic 12 — re-electionist Sen. Bam Aquino and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

Roxas was in the 7-15 rank while Aquino was at the 10-15 slot.

The others were even further down in the ranking: Tañada (24-29); Colmenares (24-29); Diokno (24-31); Macalintal (24-32); and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano (27-34). /ee /atm

READ: Poe continues to dominate Pulse Asia’s senatorial survey  

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TAGS: “Otso Diretso”, 2019 midterm elections, Bayan Muna, Makabayan, Neri Colmenares, Rodrigo Duterte
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