Colmenares defends Tañada: Nothing wrong in defending the Left
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares has defended his fellow senatorial candidate Erin Tañada, who was criticized by President Rodrigo Duterte for “doing nothing but defend leftists.”
Colmenares said Thursday that Tañada and his father, former Senator Wigberto Tañada are both known nationalists and human rights lawyers —which should be emulated by other lawyers.
“The former senator and his son are known nationalists and human rights lawyers. They have defended leftists because they uphold human rights and support those who defend national sovereignty,” the Makabayan senatorial bet said in a message to reporters.
“That is not something bad. That is something good and should be emulated by all lawyers, including Duterte,” he added.
During a PDP-Laban sortie in Marikina on Wednesday, the President singled out Tañada, one of the eight Otso Diretso Senate bets. The President said Tañada’s exploits fail in comparison to PDP-Laban’s bet, Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Dong Mangudadatu.
“Si Erin Tañada, tatay niya rin nandoon anong ginawa? Magdepensa ng komunista, then go to the plenary […] Gusto nga nilang tumbahin ang gobyerno. Anong ginawa, what contribution ni Tañada, you compare him with Mangudadatu, these guys helped bring about peace in Mindanao,” the President said.
“Ilang tao ilang buhay ang nalibre nito because of calming down, pagpigil. Sila ‘yon, itong Tañada na ito, wala sige lang, laban sa korte depensa sa left, anong nagawa ng left sa ating buhay?” he asked.
But Colmenares said the President’s criticism of the opposition slates is born of his desire to have a compliant Senate. Colmenares also slammed the red-tagging on Tañada, saying that those who oppose administration policies are immediately labeled as communists or leftists.
“Duterte’s accusation is an unwarranted slur on the Tañada family’s legacy of nationalism and upholding democracy and civil liberties. It shows Duterte’s dangerous and rabid objection to anything left or progressive,” he explained.
“There was a time when Duterte acknowledged the Left’s contribution to society. Kaya lang when we started criticizing his wrong policies, parang nagka amnesia siya and he ended up being a rabid and violent anti-leftist. Para kay Duterte, pag nasa opposition ka o hindi ka sang-ayon sa kanya, tawagin ka na agad na komunista o rebelde,” he added.
Colmenares also threw shade on Duterte’s perceived accomplishments, saying that the Tañada family has done a lot more for the country.
“The Tañadas and their allies in the Left were at the forefront of fighting the Marcos dictatorship and have been at the forefront of advocating social reform measures,” he noted.
“In fact without the struggles of the Left, the world wouldn’t have had adopted policies like an eight- hour workday, trade unionism, minimum wages, mandated social security and pensions, free education, universal health care and other social welfare programs which are now being undermined,” he added.
The connection between Tañada and left-leaning groups go a long way. His grandfather, former Senator Lorenzo Tañada, was the founding chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan — a left-leaning group active in promoting social rights which is currently a part of the Makabayan organization.
The younger Tañada was also present during the announcement of Colmenares’ senatorial bid, although he maintains that he is not a communist as he has never defended any member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in court. /muf
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.