The bicameral legislature of the Philippines is composed of the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate is generally in charge for drafting, passing and enacting policies. With this feature, it has been assumed that the senate is a good place to exercise talent and also serves as good training ground for leaders who would eventually seek higher office in the future. The Philippine Senate is composed of 24 senators with 6-year terms elected every three years. In this coming May 9, 2016 we will be electing 12 senators to fill in the slots in the legislature. There are 50 qualified candidates running for the senate – some are better known than others, there are those with popular parties and there are others that deserve the limelight yet little is yet to be known about them.
According to the recent SWS survey conducted last March 30 to April 2, the senatorial race this 2016 is still dominated by re-electionists. Senate President Franklin Drilon of the Liberal Party was at the top spot with 45% and Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto follows with 42%. At the third spot at 37% is then Agricultural Modernization Secretary Francis Pangilinan tied with former senator Panfilo Lacson.
Apart from the re-electionists, former directors, secretaries, other position holders in the past and incumbent administration and those that topped the surveys consistently, here are four lesser known senatorial bets worthy of attention.
NERI COLMENARES, ANG FIGHTER NG BAYAN
Neri Javier Colmenares is running under the Makabayan banner. He is a third time representative for Bayan Muna since May 2009. Colmenares is a human rights lawyer and an esteemed activist. He was active in opposing Ferdinand Marcos’ rule during the 70s through membership in the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP). He then became the chair of the Student Catholic Action for the Visayas region. In the 1980s he moved to Cagayan Valley and served as a youth organizer there until his arrest on the count of rebellion. He was detained and tortured along with other political prisoners at the time of martial law.
Neri Colmenares is an alumnus of San Beda College with a degree on Economics and the University of the Philippines College of Law. He is involved in the academe at the present through giving lectures on topics such as international humanitarian law and constitutional issues, election law, impeachment, writs of kalikasan and Amparo, and international criminal law.
Colmenares’ main objective is to provide viable solutions to poverty and raise the standards of living for everyone. His platform emphasizes that such solution may come about through the use of the country’s resources and the people’s nationalism. Colmenares has six main thrusts in his platform:
- Unemployment, underdevelopment and poverty may be solved through economic development based on national industrialization.
- Agrarian reform, cooperativization and agricultural modernization.
- Expansion of social services with emphasis on education, health and housing, and improved public utilities.
- Foster nationalism by protecting our national sovereignty and patrimony and promoting a culture of patriotism among the people.
- Promote and defend democracy, peace and human rights.
- Ensure that the government institutes a pro-people and pro-poor and fiscal policies.
In essence, Neri Colmenares is a fighter ng bayan mainly because of his genuine concern for the plight and welfare of those conventionally marginalized.
WALDEN BELLO, YOUR NO BULLSHIT SENATOR
Walden Bello is running for a senate position as an independent candidate. He is a known academic being a Professor of Sociology in the University of the Philippines. Bello served in the House of Representatives for Akbayan Action Citizens’ Action Party since 2010. He resigned in 2015 to protest the administration’s double standards on what good governance is and the blatant denial of responsibility on the Mamasapano incident.
He was educated at the Ateneo de Manila University and Princeton University where he completed his doctorate degree in Sociology. Aside from being an academic, Bello is also known for being one of the most vocal activists of the leftists at the present. His activism started in his stay in Princeton drawing inspiration from the anti-war movement the of the United States. He was also active in the anti-Marcos movement even while in the U.S. Upon finishing his degree in Princeton in 1975, he became a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines. He authored several materials as an academic. His long list of publications include “American Lake: The Nuclear Peril in the Pacific (1984) which was co-written with Peter Hayes and Lyuba Zarsky, People and Power in the Pacific (1992), Dark Victory: The United States and Global Poverty (1999), Global Finance: Thinking on Regulating Speculative Capital Markets (2000) and The Future in the Balance: Essays on Globalisation and Resistance (2001); The Anti-Development State: the Political Economy of Permanent Crisis in the Philippines (2004); and Dilemmas of Domination: the Unmaking of the American Empire (2005).”
Walden Bello is vigorous in his critique of imperialism and globalization as models of current economic programs. Bello’s platform mainly focuses in combatting neoliberal foreign policies dictated by global capitalist economies spearheaded by political superpowers that enslave the country. This would include:
- Liberating the country from the oppression from foreign debt and the conditions that are imposed in the Philippines by foreign and domestic banks.
- Providing job security for workers and a comprehensive and substantive agrarian reform.
- Protection of rights of women, indigenous peoples, and the LGBT community, issues on OFW rights and interests must also be promoted and protected.
- Creation of jobs and expanding housing for the urban poor, create more educational opportunities for our youth and provide a more efficient mass transit for commuters.
He intends to bring high ethical standards to Philippine politics. According to him, he is willing to go to lengths of going to hell for the electorate. Bello mentioned that the Filipino people deserve a leader that will not “bullshit” them.
Continuation in Part 2