MINDANAWONS IN CONGRESS: A People’s Inauguration

Inaugural address of  Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate on Friday afternoon, June 21, at the Garden Oases Convention Center in Davao City, where he took his oath of office before Judge Virginia Hofilena-Europa. The oath-taking was witnessed by Bayan Muna’s sectoral leaders, his family, friends and colleagues. (MindaNews/22 June) — I welcome you all to this inauguration, not of myself, but of our partylist in the august halls of the House of Representatives. I treat this as a People’s Inauguration. Today is the fruition of years of the people’s persistent efforts to build our grassroots electoral base in order to push for genuine representation in Congress. Since Bayan Muna entered into the foray of elite-dominated politics, the powers-that-be have tried to shoot it down with insiduous political maneuverings to marginalize its voice in the House, as clearly shown by the Batasan 6 episode; by the discrimination perpetrated against our party with the delay, if not denial, of resources for our constituency; and, worse, by the silencing of our leaders and activists through harassment, trumped up charges, and extra judicial killings. Despite the efforts to marginalize us, this year we have almost regained our premiere position in the partylist block by topping our 2007 votes. This is mainly due to our consistent bannering of the issues of the workers, farmers, indigenous peoples, and the whole Filipino people— truly, we lived up to our electoral slogan ‘Bayan Muna— Kampeyon ng Mahihirap!’.

Carlos Isagani T. Zarate, Bayan Muna Representative, takes his oath of office before Judge Virginia Hofilena-Europa on Friday afternoon, June 21 in Davao City. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
Carlos Isagani T. Zarate, Bayan Muna Representative, takes his oath of office before Judge Virginia Hofilena-Europa on Friday afternoon, June 21 in Davao City. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Together with other progressive parylists Gabriela, ACT Teachers, Anakpawis, and Kabataan, we stand proud amidst the bastardization of the Partylist system as we saw the continuing domination of fake partylists which were either shoved into this system supposedly guaranteed by the social justice clauses of the Constitution and of the Partylist law by the power of political dynasties and the shrewd maneuvers of local political bureaucrats who slipped through using the route of regional political parties. The people have a rightful stake in governance that effects concrete reforms without promoting the pitfalls of reformism. Because while we engage ourselves in a tit-for-tat battle for the people’s interests in the halls of Congress, we make no mistake that the House is a rubber stamp chamber for laws and policies being enacted by the country’s landlords, big capitalists, and perennial dynasties and bureaucrats. We make no illusion that the country’s parliament is a testament to a working democracy. To the contrary, our farcical liberal democracy unfolds before us as we will see more attacks on our people’s livelihood, lands, and natural resources with the regime of privatization, liberalization, and deregulation definitely coming to fever pitch in the final and decisive term of the Aquino Presidency. Bayan Muna shall stand astride with the people, inside and outside the Batasan, to push for decent living wages across the board, for gainful employment and social security, for human rughts and social equity, and for genuine national development thru land reform and national industrialization. This representation also takes seriously my role as a voice for the people of Mindanao. Rest assured that Bayan Muna will push for the rationalization of resource allocation that shall benefit Mindanao given our share in national development and based on the fact that we have the poorest towns, procinces and regions. We shall push for decisive protection for ancestral domains and indigenous people’s rights as well as push for equity and genuine pro-people mechanisms to promote the right to self determination of the bangsamoro people. Today is the inauguration of Bayan Muna and the poor into the 16th Congress. Marginal as we may be, the people’s movement outside Batasang Pambansa, will make our voices heard. And this humble representation vows to speak for you and for your rights, welfare, and future. Mabuhi ang katawhang Pilipino! Mabuhi ang Katawhan sa Mindanao! [“Mindanawons in Congress” is open to all Mindanawons elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate, for them to report to the nation what bills they have filed, what their stand is on issues facing the nation in general and Mindanao in particular. Before he became a lawyer in 1995, Carlos Isagani Tabora Zarate was a journalist – a reporter of the Media Mindanao News Service and correspondent of Malaya newspaper in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He returned to writing in 2001, as one of the columnists of the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s ‘Kris-Crossing Mindanao.’ Zarate has served as head of various lawyers’ groups such as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Davao chapter, the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao and is Vice President for Mindanao of the National Union of People’s Lawyers]