Makabayan bloc leaves House majority

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/14 September) — The seven party list representatives of the Makabayan Bloc on Thursday broke away from the majority coalition in the House of Representatives in protest over what they called “a fascist, pro-imperialist and anti-people regime” of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement, the Makabayan Bloc cited Duterte’s “neoliberal economic policies, disdain for human rights especially in his war on drugs, anti-crime and counterinsurgency campaigns, his rehabilitation of the former dictator Marcos, and his propensity for strongman rule” as its reasons for leaving the coalition.

It noted that it joined the majority because Duterte promised change but remained critical of his policies.

The statement said the bloc was encouraged by the President’s pronouncements on resuming the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, releasing political prisoners, pursuing an independent foreign policy, addressing the roots of the Moro rebellion, among others.

“His unprecedented decision to appoint leftists and activists to crucial cabinet posts – Judy Taguiwalo at the DSWD, Gina Lopez at the DENR, Liza Maza at the NAPC, and Rafael Mariano at the DAR – provided openings for pursuing such reforms,” it added.

The Commission on Appointments had rejected the appointments of Taguiwalo, Lopez and Mariano.

Duterte had terminated talks with the NDFP and declared martial law in Mindanao after the Marawi siege erupted on May 23.

“With Marawi being bombed to the ground and its resulting humanitarian crisis, the Moro peace process is spiraling downward. Under these circumstances, martial law threatens to turn Mindanao into an even more violent land of strife and lost promises,” the statement said.

The administration has charted a so-called road map for peace in Mindanao targeting to have the Bangsamoro Basic Law passed by December this year and ratified in a plebiscite in May next year. However, the bill is not among those certified as urgent by Malacanang.

“Pres. Duterte has turned back on his promise to ‘separate’ from the US, even as he has allowed China to continue occupying the West Philippine Sea. His ‘independent foreign policy’ has turned out to be a farce. He is now as dependent as ever on the US for national security and has practically abandoned our valid and internationally recognized claims of sovereignty and territory in the West Philippine Sea in exchange for China’s promises of aid and investments,” the statement said.

“Worst of all, his ‘war on drugs’ has turned into a campaign of mass murder of the poor, for which he shows no signs of turning back,” it added.

Duterte’s war on drugs has claimed the lives of thousands of suspects many of whom were said to be victims of extrajudicial killings.

The Makabayan Bloc further said that Duterte and his allies are “embarking on efforts to undermine the very institutions that serve as a check on his Executive powers,” referring to the P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights approved by the House, attacks against the Ombudsman, and the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

“Now that he is pushing for an insidious revision of the Constitution, now that he has revived his threat to declare martial law nationwide and impose a revolutionary government, we resolve to intensify efforts to defeat the emergence of a new dictatorship,” it added.

The Makabayan Bloc includes Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro (Act Teachers), Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party), Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna), Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis), Sarah Elago (Kabataan). (MindaNews)