MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc, consisting of seven party-list lawmakers, on Thursday announced that it would be leaving the supermajority in the House of Representatives.
The Makabayan bloc lawmakers bolted out of the House majority coalition to intensify their opposition against the Duterte administration.
“As representatives of the poor and marginalized sectors in Congress and as nationalist and progressive legislators, it would be a violation of our duties and principles to remain with a Majority that enables and defends the fascist, pro-imperialist and anti-people policies of the Duterte regime,” the Makabayan lawmakers said in a statement.
The Makabayan bloc is composed of ACT Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Gabriela Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago.
The seven lawmakers noted that they supported Duterte during the start of his term due to his “reformist and populist actions and pronouncements” on several issues.
With the suspension of the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front and the Marawi conflict, the Moro peace process is spiraling downward, the lawmakers said.
The declaration of martial law in Mindanao threatens to turn the region “into an even more violent land of strife and lost promises.”
The lawmakers also criticized Duterte’s so-called independent foreign policy as he has allowed China to occupy the West Philippine Sea.
“His ‘independent foreign policy’ has turned out to be a farce. He is now as dependent as ever on the US for national security and has practically abandoned our valid and internationally recognized claims of sovereignty and territory in the West Philippine Sea in exchange for China’s promises of aid and investments,” they said.
Duterte’s anti-illegal drug campaign has turned into a campaign of “mass murder of the poor, for which he shows no signs of turning back.”
“Nor that President Duterte and his allies are embarking on efforts to undermine the very institutions that serve as a check on his executive powers, now that he is pushing for an insidious revision of the Constitution, now that he has revived his threat to declare martial law nationwide and impose a revolutionary government, we resolve to intensify efforts to defeat the emergence of a new dictatorship,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, welcomed the decision of the Makabayan lawmakers to leave the supermajority.
“The assumption by the Makabayan bloc of an independent role at the House of Representatives assures that the democratic processes in the chamber would be preserved, and that another group may stand as a potent, vigilant, and credible fiscalizer against the imperfections and excesses of this administration,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
Last February, senators from the LP were ousted from their committee chairmanships and were booted out of the majority after visiting Sen. Leila de Lima who was detained for her alleged involvement in the proliferation of the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
The LP senators—Bam Aquino, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros and Pangilinan — are now part of the Senate minority along with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
In a statement, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said: “We take due notice of the decision of the seven party-list representatives belonging to the Makabayan bloc to leave the House of Representatives majority coalition.”
“We were hopeful that they would remain open to working together with the administration, particularly on pro-poor, pro-people issues,” Abella added.