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For an independent & progressive Senate

On May 13, 2019 Filipino voters would troupe to election precincts and cast their votes for 12 new Senators of the Republic. Given what the Duterte administration has done in the last three years, what it is currently doing and what it intends to do for the remaining time it is in power, the results of the Senatorial elections will be very crucial. To put it lightly but bluntly, we cannot screw up.

A quick rundown of what the key issues are: our national sovereignty up for sale with our lands, waters and other resources being offered to China; changing our Constitution to favor dictatorial and tyrannical designs and to entrench the self-serving ruling class; the imposition of more laws that will burden the poor majority; the complete restoration of the Marcoses in power; the continuing attack on journalists, activists, human rights advocates and indigenous peoples; the truth that drug lords remain free to operate while thousands of poor have died without due process.

These will get worse if candidates who are not only imcompetent and undeserving of a Senate seat and worse, who by words, deeds and legislative record would just kowtow to Duterte’s desires and designs will be elected.

It is paramount then, nay, it is our duty and obligation to use our ballots to elect a Senate that is independent and restore some sense of dignity, duty and concern for the common good in our democratic systems.

To achieve this, I urge our fellow voters to consider and support the following candidates:

Neri Colmenares

Leody De Guzman

Ernesto Arellano

Sonny Matula

Allan Montano

Chel Diokno

Erin Tanada

Samira Gutoc

Pilo Hilbay

Nancy Binay

Bam Aquino

Serge Osmena

The list is made up of men and women of principles. They have exhibited intelligence and openness to working with others across ideologies and have shown independence of mind.

Neri Colmenares is one of the most popular candidates from the opposition. A veteran of the parliament of the streets, he made his name for being a human rights lawyer himself being a victim of rights abuses during the martial law years of the Marcos dictatorship. His track record in the House of Representatives is proof that he is a champion of the poor and marginalized – increased pension for SSS, opposing unreasonable rates increase by Meralco, Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act and many more. Despite being red-tagged by the government and targeted by misinformation campaigns, Colmenares remains untainted by corruption.

From the Labor Win coalition comes Leody De Guzman who heads the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Ernesto Arellano, founder of Kilusang Mayo Uno, Sonny Matula, president of Federation of Free Workers and Labor lawyer Allan Montano. Electing them to the Senate will ensure that laws will be crafted to serve the common good and the common man. Living wages, ending ‘endo’ and strengthening unions will be much easier to achieve if these leaders would get a Senate seat. They are free of corruption and are not beholden to any oligarchs or private interests.

Samira Gutoc has really captured my interest with her fiery passion about the issues besetting Mindanao and our Muslim brothers. Chel Diokno will ensure the respect for due process and the rule of law will be on the Senate’s agenda. Erin Tanada and Pilo Hilbay will help secure and defend our sovereignty. Bam Aquino, Nancy Binay and Serge Osmena will be great assets to ensure an independent Senate.

I enjoin everyone to look into their backgrounds and track records. Their positions on the key issues enumerated earlier are worth the consideration, so much so that it would merit your vote.

Karl Marx once wrote that “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.” Come May 13, we get the chance to select leaders that will truly represent us and help us struggle against our own repression.

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