Akbayan lawmaker quits Congress March 19
MANILA - Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello has tendered his irrevocable resignation as party-list representative effective March 19 over differences with the party's continued alliance with President Benigno Aquino.
Bello holds Aquino responsible for the Mamasapano incident.
Bello wants Aquino to take responsibility much like US presidents John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan when they had controversies during their terms.
"I think the President should admit responsibility and in fact, iyan ang hinihingi ng mga tao. It might be late but better late than never," he said.
Bello said it is just the latest of many differences with the President. Others include the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and his call for the dismissal of DAP's alleged author Budget Secretary Butch Abad, as well as the sacking of other controversial cabinet figures like Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes, and former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima.
"Nagalit pa siya sa akin, ang sagot [sa akin] 'Bakit 'di ako tumakbong Presidente?'" he said.
'LOYALTY TO CORRUPT, INCOMPETENT SUBORDINATES'
Bello said one of Aquino's flaws, aside from being stubborn, is loyalty to his friends. Bello believes this made Aquino run the government like a fraternity.
"He's very loyal to subordinates, either corrupt or incompetent. Parang fraternity ang takbo ng Cabinet. Instead of competence, instead of considerations based on rational discussion, loyalty is what counts. Unfortunately, Cabinet is not a fraternity."
Bello, however, won't call for Aquino's resignation or impeachment and just hopes he will change. "He should cease running government like a fraternity, basically running it on loyalties than competence."
He believes President Aquino's moves could be because of US involvement in the Mamasapano incident.
"From all the facts that have come up, it's fairly clear the President was heavily involved. It's a bit strange, as soon as the BOI [Board of Inquiry] said it was gonna release the report, he preempted that by saying he had nothing to do with it. The fingerprints of the US are all over the place. That has to be probed. 'Di lang pwede iwan sa executive sessions."
In a press conference, Bello said he wanted to explain his reasons for resigning to his colleagues but this was prevented when session adjourned Wednesday because there may have been no quorum.
Sulu Rep. Tupay Loong moved for a roll call at the start of session, prompting a suspension of the session.
Moments later, the session adjourned.
Bello said, "I understand there were not very many people and there was going to be a quorum call and they adjourned it."
Instead Bello will give his speech on Monday. "(It's) basically withdrawing my support from the President. The reason for this, I cannot tolerate the President's cover-up of the Mamasapano tragedy, especially with respect to his participation and the participation of Mr. Purisima. I think this is an act not expected of the President. This is an attempt to wash responsibility of an event that he was part of."
Bello feels Aquino is making former SAF chief Getulio Napenas the fall guy by preempting the investigations with his Monday speech .
Bello said this brings him against his party-list group that supports the President. Akbayan's Joel Rocamora, Etta Rosales, and Ronald Llamas sit as lead convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, chair of the Commission on Human Rights, and Presidential Political Affairs Adviser, respectively.
Former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros was senatorial candidate under the administration in 2013.
"I see things other way because of that and because of our processes and our party ethics, if one can no longer represent views of the party, it is but right and appropriate to leave," he said. "After I heard the president's remarks on Monday, things have been very fast. The Monday speech was the last straw. I felt that the President was not acting as President."
Bello believes there's room for him to stay as Akbayan member. "I have already talked to the party. Most of the people in the leadership didn't want me to resign but I felt that rather than prolong a process of contradiction, it was incumbent on me to resign."
He revealed that his resignation was accepted Tuesday night.
He will also personally hand over his resignation to House Speaker Sonny Belmonte.
Bello spoke to Belmonte Wednesday. "We had a pleasant conversation. He [Belmonte] will be accepting the resignation. He promised to be the one to accept the letter of resignation when it is given to him. I'm resigning as nominee of Akbayan, 1st nominee of Akbayan to the 16th Congress."
He joined the calls for the reopening of the House probe on the Mamasapano tragedy.
"Kasi ang dami pang unresolved issues but also the possible role of the US. In this process, we're at just the tip of the iceberg, this is going to be festering."
In a statement, the Akbayan party-list is "saddened by Rep. Walden Bello's irrevocable decision to resign as our party representative."
"He has provided sterling leadership to our party in and out of Congress. He has led some of Akbayan's important struggles and victories through the years. He has been with us in fighting for land reform, Reproductive Health, the Freedom of Information bill, the Anti-Discrimination bill, to name a few. He has also led the party's efforts to protect the country’s sovereignty and ensure the well-being of Filipino workers in the Philippines and overseas," it added.
"Walden remains a treasured member of the party. Certainly his principled stances are valuable to the party and his analyses form part of the vibrant mix of convergent and divergent views that mark our rich ideological life. Certainly our points of convergence far outweigh the differences. Certainly our differences contribute to a better grounded politics," Akbayan said.
Akbayan, however, is holding on to the Aquino administration. "We, however, believe that there are more reforms to be gained from staying in the coalition than by leaving it at this conjuncture. We call on President Aquino to rescue the momentum of reform by exacting full accountability from all responsible actors on the Mamapasano incident, including himself."