MANILA, Philippines - A scuffle broke out at the press conference of Akbayan as critics confronted members on alleged hypocrisy in calling for the disqualification of perceived party list allies of the Arroyo administration.
Akbayan, which is seeking re-election, is now supposedly allied with the Aquino administration. Its former representative, Risa Hontiveros, is with the administration’s Senate slate.
Akbayan spokesman Barry Gutierrez was speaking when alleged members of Anakbayan shouted why they called for the disqualification of perceived Arroyo allies in the 2007 elections but are now saving themselves from disqualification.
Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello approached them but was prevented by colleagues. At some point, Bello even gestured to one female protester to face him.
When the protesters continued to disrupt the proceedings, the supporters of Akbayan started to clap and drown them out by chanting, “KSP!” or “Kulang sa Pansin” (someone who craves attention).
The scuffle turned more violent, with both sides already hitting each other. One protester even lost his shoe as Akbayan supporters and restaurant security tried to escort them out. The protesters left after a few minutes.
Under siege by critics, President Aquino’s supposed party-list ally marshaled supporters in a show of force in Manila to shoot down calls that it be excluded from the party list elections.
Representatives of groups like the National Union of Rural Based Organization, Inc., the Santolan Riverside Neighborhood Foundation. Inc., the National Union of Workers in the Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries, the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines, Kilusan Para sa Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan, Tambuyog Development Center and Labor Education and Research Network rallied around Akbayan to prove that it represents marginalized sectors in the country.
The groups also issued statements of support.
Akbayan, for its part, insisted its support base was multisectoral.