MANILA, Philippines – Akbayan party-list on Saturday denied the allegations made by another leftist group, Anakbayan, that the party-list is Malacañang’s “lapdog.”
Speaking to dzMM, Akbayan spokesperson and legal counsel Edwin Bustillos said it is unfair to tag them as such because their members and leaders are members of various marginalized sectors.
“Ang Akbayan party-list ay hindi backed ng Malacañang. Ang aming constituents ay mula sa hanay ng kababaihan, mga manggagawa, kabataan at iba pang mga sektor na kung saan ang mga members ng Akbayan ay democratically, nage-elect ng lider kada 3 taon para siyang kumatawan sa party-list representation,” Bustillos said.
Anakbayan has criticized Akbayan and called for its disqualification because they believe Akbayan no longer represents the marginalized sector.
Anakbayan national chairman Vencer Crisostomo cited that many of Akbayan's former leaders are now part of the Executive branch, including Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas, Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Etta Rosales, National Anti-Poverty Commission chairman Joel Rocamora and GSIS board member Mario Agujo.
But Bustillos refuted this, saying the leaders mentioned by Crisostomo have no influence on the party-list’s decisions and policies.
“Walang katotohanan ‘yung sinasabi ni Vencer Crisostomo na ang mga lider ng Akbayan ay may malaking influence sa pagde-desisyon ng partido dahil sila ay nasa gobyerno at therefore ay maaari din silang impluwensiyahan ng Malacañang,” he said.
Bustillos further explained that Llamas, Rosales and the others are on leave and have not been attending the party-list meetings.
“For the record, ang mga nabanggit ng Vencer ay mga naka-leave at hindi bahagi sa pagde-desisyon ng executive committee ng Akbayan, because I myself ang umuupo sa executive meetings at kami ang nagde-decide para sa partido at kailanman ay hindi kami diniktahan ng Malacañang, kaya masakit para sa amin na sabihin na kami ay ‘lapdog’ o ‘front party-list’ ng Malacañang sapagkat ang mga constituents namin at mga lider namin ay galing sa mga sektor,” he said.
However, Crisostomo, also speaking to dzMM, said he does not buy Bustillos’s reasoning.
“Palusot nalang iyon kumbaga na walang kaugnayan sa pagdedesisyon pero ibig sabihin nu’n, ang laki ng impluwensiya nila,” said Crisostomo.
The two groups have been engaging in a word war since last week and the dispute boiled over on Tuesday when 5 members of Anakbayan stormed a press conference arranged by Akbayan in Orosa, Manila.
Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello confronted the Anakbayan members, who had to be escorted out by security.