Makabayan bloc still undecided on joining House ‘super coalition’

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 June) – Members of the Makabayan Bloc in Congress will decide within the month if they will join or not the “super coalition” of Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte’s choice for House Speaker.

Speaking to reporters during the Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City Monday, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said that they are in talks with Alvarez over the possibility of joining the emerging majority.

“We are still in the process of finalizing whether we join the super coalition. All things are in flux but there are talks with Alvarez,” he said.

The Makabayan Bloc in the 17th Congress will include new and re-elected representatives such as Zarate, Gabriela Women’s Party’s Emmi De Jesus and Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers’ Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Anakpawis’ Ariel Casilao, and Kabataan’s Sara Jane Elago.

Alvarez told reporters last week he is confident of getting over 200 votes for the speakership from members of the Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, National Unity Party, Lakas-CMD, and Liberal Party.

The Makabayan Bloc nonetheless said it will support Duterte’s pro-poor and pro-people agenda regardless of its final decision on the “super coalition”.

Zarate cited Duterte’s stance against labor contractualization and mining.

Casilao told MindaNews that representatives from Mindanao had formalized the creation of a Mindanao bloc last month that will push for equity in budget allocation for the island’s provinces.

“Ang common sentiment is for Mindanao to have equal share in terms of resource. Secondly, Mindanao congressmen deserve to hold strategic and important committees,” he said.

He said Mindanao lawmakers should be given the opportunity to head important committees like the ways and means, rules, and appropriation committees now that the new president is from Mindanao.

He added Mindanao lawmakers would push for a common legislative agenda which includes federalism and peace-building among Moro, Christians, and Lumads.

With a Mindanawon president and possibly a House Speaker from the same island, he said, the focus will be diverted from Luzon to Mindanao. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)