“Wala na bang iba? Lagi na lang bang sila?’ Mga kababayan, sa kalyeserye ng totoong buhay, ngayon na ang tamang panahon para dalhin si Neri Colmenares sa senado.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Answering to the call by progressive groups, Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares declared he is running for senate in 2016, in a gathering on Sept. 1.
Colmenares said his bid for the Senate in next year’s national elections is not only a challenge for him, but also for progressive organizations. He then asked the crowd in Filipino, “Do you accept the challenge to make a nationalist senator win in 2016?” to which the ecstatic crowd replied yes.
The Neri for Senator Movement was launched at the Quezon City Sports Complex and attended by various groups and personalities.
“We are here today not only to show the nation why Neri is worthy to become a senator, but also to ensure that Neri will win the senate bid in the 2016 elections,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) spokesperson and former Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño said.
Other legislators also expressed support for Colmenares, among them 1BAP Partylist representative and Deputy Minority Leader Silvestre Bello III, Tarlac 2nd District Rep. Susan Yap and Pangasinan 3rd District Rep. Rose Marie “Baby” Arenas.
Voice of the ordinary people
Supporters from different walks of life said Colmenares will be a true representative of the people in the senate. Workers and farmers gave their commitment to gather votes.
“We guarantee you, Cong. Neri that we will support your campaign next year because we believe that you will be our voice in the senate,” said Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) Vice President Rudy Corpuz.
Renato Reyes Jr, Bayan secretary general, said that Colmenares’ bid is a fight of the workers for just compensation and benefits, of the landless farmers, of the youth who hopes for a better future, of the commuters who endure long lines in the MRT, of the neglected consumers, of the overseas Filipino workers and of the tax payers who are fed up with rotten politics.
“This is the fight of Filipinos who ask, ‘Wala na bang iba? Lagi na lang bang sila?’ Mga kababayan, sa kalyeserye ng totoong buhay, ngayon na ang tamang panahon para dalhin si Neri Colmenares sa senado,” (Is there no one else? Will it always be the same persons? My compatriots, in the street saga of real life, now is the right time to bring Neri Colmenares to the senate) said Reyes.
‘Love for the poor majority’
Talk show host and founder of the Make your Nanay Proud Foundation, Boy Abunda expressed his support to Colmenares in a video message shown at the gathering. Abunda said that Colmenares had stood on the side of ordinary citizens on issues such as traffic, incessant power and water hikes, and high cost of education.
He said he believes that Colmenares will become an asset of the poor in the Senate. “His love for the poor majority is pure,” Abunda said.
He added that when people choose a leader for the country, it is important to consider character.
“At dyan ko po itinataya ang aking maliit na pangalan. Sinusportahan ko..ang kandidatura ni Neri Colmenares bilang senador, para sa bayan, para sa mga mahihirap, para sa isang makatarungang pamamahala ng bayan,” (This is where I put my humble name on the line. I am supporting Neri’s candidacy as senator, for the people, for the poor, for a just government) said Abunda.
Meanwhile, Bello guaranteed votes from the people of Isabela province, his hometown. He also said there will be votes from the congressional districts of Yap and Arenas in Tarlac and Pangasinan, respectively.
“Humanda ang daya machinery ng…sino nga itong residente ninyo?” Bello quipped and the rest of the crowd laugh out loud. He said Colmenares will definitely make it to the senate if his rivals will not cheat during the elections.
He warned Colmenares’ supporters to watch out for election fraud. “When you vote, tell them to make sure that your vote will be counted,” he said. “That is your work, to guard your votes for Neri,” Bello added.
Need for presence in senate
Colmenares said he had difficulty in deciding whether to accept the call of people’s organizations for him to run as senator. He said, he never dreamed to be a congressman, much less a senator.
“I only had two dreams when I was young, first is to be a pilot or be an artista. But I never had a chance,” Colmenares said in jest. (Please also read: Neri Colmenares on torture, a human rights code and movie acting)
On a serious note, he said his colleagues in the Makabayan bloc also discussed the pros and cons of his senate candidacy. He said while the Makabayan bloc has made its presence in Congress, there is a gap when it comes to the Senate. He said most of the bills and resolutions that were filed by the Makabayan bloc do not have any equivalent in the Senate.
He cited the bill which mandates a P125 ($2.70) salary increase in Congress, which should also be filed in the Senate. “Not P50 ($1) or P40, we want the whole P125,” he said.
He also said the voice of progressives in Congress is drowned out by 290 other solons. But in the senate, he will only battle with only 24.
After many consultations with progressive groups, he finally decided to accept the challenge.
However, he said that this challenge is not only for him, but for the groups to also ensure that the progressive partylists would also win in next year’s election. “We should also ensure that our partylists will win in next year’s election. Kaya ba natin yun?” The crowd replied an echoing yes.