Wenceslao: Makabayan bloc

THE MAKABAYAN bloc in the House of Representatives lost some representatives in the party-list polls although one of its former members unseated the Ecleos in Dinagat. I don’t know if some other Makabayan bloc representatives made it by gaining other congressional district seats but its strength has always been in the party-list polls and it looks like some of the bloc’s party-list allies failed to get enough votes, like Akbayan.

Akbayan used to be a formidable force in the party-list polls so its loss was readily observable. It’s ideological “rival,” Bayan Muna, gained three seats. Former Akbayan representative Walden Bello attributed the loss to the party-list group’s alliance with the Liberal Party, whose Otso Diretso slate got shut out in the Senate race.

But I say that is not the main factor. Bayan Muna and Akbayan take joy in their organizing strength, which has allowed them to gain party-list seats despite the attacks and the propaganda hurled against them by the state. In this sense spontaneity is not one of their best suits. But I rate Akbayan a bit better in alliance work judging from some of its triumphs in the elections.

I think it was in 2010 when the Left that includes Bayan Muna forged an alliance with the Nacionalista Party that in turn aligned with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator whose regime jailed many leftist leaders including Satur Ocampo, who was running for the Senate then. It was therefore a spectacle seeing a Marcos share the same stage with Ka Satur.

In 2016, a Left faction supported the candidacy of the liberal Grace Poe in the presidential elections. That was drowned by the high profile expression of love by Jose Ma. Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, for then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte. That love turned to hate in a snap after Duterte became president, attesting to Joma’s error. Meanwhile, while the Left could not see eye to eye with former president Benigno Aquino III, Akbayan aligned itself with the Aquino government. That alliance partly paid dividends with the election to the Senate of Risa Hontiveros, Akbayan’s sole holdout among the incumbents now.

In the recent elections, I didn’t see an aggressive push by Akbayan in the party-list polls in Cebu. Some Akbayan leaders that I know were not that visible unlike in previous elections, probably because Hontiveros was not running for reelection. But the lack of visibility may have been because the party machinery nationwide was not humming well. But supporters need some reminding during elections that, yes, your group still exists.

In a way, that too may have been the fault of the other popular party-list groups. I would have liked, for example, that Gabriela got more than one seat in the House, considering the need for women to have a stronger voice in an administration whose view of women is not admirable. I also would have wanted the youth to be represented in the house by progressives, not by the Duterte Youth some of whose members are fanatics and old.


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