'Otso Diretso’ woos farmers, indigenous tribes with pro-poor bills

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2019 04:14 PM | Updated as of Feb 06 2019 06:27 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Vice President Leni Robredo heralded 8 opposition senatorial bets in signing pledges to push in the legislature key concerns of marginalized groups Wednesday, a week before the official start of the campaign period.

Several farmers, fisherfolk, labor groups, senior citizens, marginalized families and indigenous peoples gathered at the University of the Philippines Bahay ng Alumni to touch base with Robredo and the “Otso Diretso” (Straight 8) slate before the senatorial hopefuls officially begin wooing voters next week.

“Matagal na 'yung opisina namin na may engagement sa kanila. Hindi ito finorm because of the elections. Ito ay isang bagay na ginagawa na namin before,” Robredo told reporters after the event.

(Our office has been engaging with these groups for a long time. It was not formed because of the elections.)

The opposition roster is composed of reelectionist Sen. Bam Aquino, former Sen. Mar Roxas, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, former House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada, lawyers Chel Diokno, Pilo Hilbay and Romulo Macalintal, as well as former Muslim assemblywoman Samira Gutoc.

Roxas did not attend the event due to a prior commitment, said former Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, who represented Roxas in the event.

Among commitments in the manifesto signed by the 8 candidates are the passage of the Anti-Dynasty Bill, the National Land Use Bill, the Security of Tenure Bill and other measures that would recognize the rights of children and the urban poor.

Aside from herself, Robredo said the coalition was not expecting other high-ranking incumbent officials to endorse the opposition’s slate.

“Ito ay pagkakataon na mapakita ng mga sektor na ang tunay na kapangyarihan ay nasa kanila. Pagkakataon ito para iparinig ang boses,” the vice president said.

(This is a chance to show that sectoral groups hold the real power. This is a chance for them to be heard.)

“Dapat hindi tayo nadidismaya na walang malaking pulitiko ang gustong tumulong sa atin,” she said.

(We should not be dismayed that there is no big politician who wants to help us.)

“Ipakita natin 'yung boses natin ay mas malakas pa kaysa sa boses ng pinakamalakas na pulitiko,” she said.

(Let’s show them that our voices are louder than the voice of the strongest politician.)

“Otso Diretso” campaign manager and Liberal Party President Sen. Francis Pangilinan earlier said the slate would prioritize touching base with the masses over the next 3 months, instead of campaigning online.

"The door-to-door campaigning and persuasion is very critical for us," Pangilinan told ANC's "Beyond Politics.”

"Maglabas ka lang ng statement na pabor sa opposition sa social media eh walang katapusan kang ito-troll at iba-bash," he said.

(If we release a statement in favor of the opposition on social media, we would get endless trolling and bashing.)