MANILA, Philippines - Leftist groups Anakbayan and Akbayan engaged in a word war Friday due to a pending petition by militant groups to disqualify Akbayan in the 2013 party-list election.
Anakbayan national chairman Vencer Crisostomo fired the first salvo, saying the Akbayan party-list group no longer represents the marginalized because many of its former leaders are now part of the Executive branch.
These include Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs, Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Etta Rosales, National Anti-Poverty Commission chairman Joel Rocamora and GSIS board member Mario Agujo.
Crisostomo said 2 of Akbayan’s nominees for the 2013 party-list elections are presidential appointees. They are Palace undersecretary for political affairs Barry Gutierrez and Commissioner Angelina Ludovice-Katoh of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.
“Hindi po pupwede. Napakagarapal na tila yung buong Malacanang e nagpapatakbo ng appointees sa party-list elections,” he told ABS-CBN’s “Umagang Kay Ganda.”
“In the past administration, they criticized the appointees of Gloria Arroyo for running in the party-list election. Now that it’s their turn, they say it's ok? We cannot have a double standard,” he added.
Crisostomo said the only reason that the Commission on Elections should allow Akbayan to run in next year’s midterm polls is if the party changed its name to “KKK” or the “Kaibigan, Kaklase and Kabarilan” party.
For his part, Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello said Anakbayan has always criticized their group because of a difference in political ideologies. He said their group split with extreme leftist groups such as Anakbayan and the Kilusang Mayo Uno because they remained front organizations of the communist insurgency.
“Mainit talaga ang dugo ng Anakbayan ng matagal, mula pa nung 1990s. Ang problema nito - hindi nila inilalabas sa complaint na galing ito sa inggit kasi napaka-effective ng Akbayan in representing the marginalized masses whereas sila at yung mga parties where they are allied, the ultra-Left, ay talagang they have been drifting into irrelevance,” he said.
Bello said the true measure of a party-list is how effectively they have pushed for bills that help the marginalized. He said Akbayan has supported key pieces of legislation in Congress including the Freedom of Information Bill, Balance Housing Act, Security for Tenure Act for Laborers and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, which benefit peasants, workers and farmers.
Bello admitted that many of Akbayan’s former leaders were given positions in government because they effectively represented the marginalized masses. “E mga allied groups ng Anakbayan panay salita lang ng salita habang kami, we are making progressive politics into the mainstream,” he said.
Targeted for elimination?
He also hinted that Anakbayan’s petition to disqualify their group from running in the party-list elections next year is just a secondary option of the extreme Left.
“Their primary option is our physical elimination. Alam naman natin na front group sila ng extreme Left and the extreme Left in 2005 targeted me as a counterrevolutionary to be eliminated. Hindi lang ako. So let’s face it, let’s put it on the table. [Anakbayan] and KMU are front groups of the extreme Left and they are coming from a difference of politics,” he said.
Bello said Akbayan has not always seen eye-to-eye with Malacañang on various issues including the recently passed Cybercrime Prevention Act 2012. He urged the public “not to be fooled by what Anakbayan, KMU and the other groups are pushing.”
Crisostomo, meanwhile, denied that their group is just jealous of the government positions being given to Akbayan leaders. He also said the only track record he remembers about Llamas is getting caught buying pirated DVDs and having an AK-47 in his car.
“Paano kami maiingit sa mga sipsip sa pwesto?” he said.
He also accused Bello of “Red-baiting” and weaving together all sorts of stories against his group.
“If the government already represented the marginalized, we don’t need the party-list elections. That is the only space given to the marginalized. But if presidential appointees are running for the party-list e yung Malacanang ba pwede magpatakbo ng partylist?” he asked.