THE seven left-leaning party-list lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc yesterday decided to leave the House supermajority group and abandoned their alliance with President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte due to policy differences.
“Today, we, seven party list representatives of the Makabayan Bloc, declare our separation from the Majority Coalition in the House of Representatives to intensify our opposition to the Duterte administration that has now fully unraveled as a fascist, pro-imperialist and anti-people regime,” the group declared.
The members of the Makabayan bloc are Reps. Antonio Tiñio and France Castro of ACT Teachers, Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna, Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis and Sarah Elago of Kabataan.
They said their continuing stay with the super majority coalition of Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez would be a “violation of our duties and principles” being “representatives of the poor and marginalized sectors in Congress and as nationalist and progressive legislators.”
Tiñio said he informed House Majority Floor Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo “Rudy” Fariñas, a stalwart of the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban), about the matter.
“Manong, I just wanted to let you know before we announce to the media that Makabayan bloc has decided to leave the majority to stand as an independent bloc. Despite this, we hope to maintain cordial relations with you and work with you on certain issues,” said Tiñio.
Fariñas said “I respect and accept your decision with a heavy heart, of course. But, as you know too well, I have good relations even with the Independent (Magnificent) 7 who sued the Speaker (Pantaleon Alvarez), [House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep.] Danny Suarez and I before the SC (Supreme Court).”
Tiñio, Zarate and De Jesus were among the lawmakers allied with the majority bloc who were stripped of their posts for not supporting the death penalty bill.
Tiñio then chaired the House committee on public information, Zarate was the former chairman of the House committee on environment and natural resources and De Jesus was chairperson of the House committee on poverty alleviation.
The militant lawmakers said they had decided to join the majority bloc before in support to President Duterte and his administration’s “promise of change.”
“His unprecedented decision to appoint leftists and activists to crucial Cabinet posts -- Judy Taguiwalo at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Gina Lopez at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Liza Maza at the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), and Rafael Mariano at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) -- provided openings for pursuing such reforms,” they said.