Calls for Vice President Leni Robredo to include former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares in their senatorial slate for the 2022 elections emerged online through the hashtag “#WeWantNeri.”
The presidential aspirant announced their lineup on Friday which included political foes and reelectionists in the upper house. They are:
- Sen. Risa Hontiveros
- Sen. Leila de Lima
- Sen. Richard Gordon
- Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri
- Sen. Joel Villanueva
- Sorsogon Gov. Chiz Escudero
- Former senator Antonio Trillanes
- Former Ifugao representative Teddy Baguilat
- Former vice president Jejomar Binay
- Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno
- Lawyer Alex Lacson
Gordon, Zubiri, Villanueva, Binay, Escudero are their guest candidates. They are also part of the Lacson-Sotto lineup, as well as the Pacquiao-Atienza‘s.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who helped in the negotiations for Robredo’s Senate lineup, said that they have agreed those in multiple tickets shouldn’t be supporting any particular presidential candidate.
“We would like to suggest that at the minimum, you would not endorse any candidate for president so that you will stay as a guest candidate of a number of parties and groupings,” he said.
Robredo said that consultations are ongoing for their 12th senatorial bet who she wants to be a representative of the marginalized sector.
Among her choices are progressive leaders Neri Colmenares of the Bayan Muna party-list and Sonny Matula of the Federation of Free Workers.
Robredo acknowledged that while there were past disagreements among some members of their Senate slate, they have all agreed to unite for shared aspirations for the country.
“Merong hindi pagkakasundo sa daang tinahak before. ‘Yung kahandaan makipagkaisa, malaking bagay na iyon. Ang sine-share namin ngayon ay ang aspirations sa bansa natin. Iyon ang pinakamahalaga,” she said.
“Noong kinausap natin sila, ‘yung commitment na makinig, ‘yung commitment na mag-share ng isang lamesa para pagusapan kung paano magpanda ng mas magandang bukas,” Robredo added.
For a ‘united opposition’
The hashtag “#WeWantNeri” later on landed on local Twitter’s top trending list following their announcement of senatorial slate as some of her supporters urged the vice president to include the progressive lawyer in the ticket to achieve a “united opposition.”
“Ma’am @lenirobredo. Isama niyo po si Neri Colmenare sa slate nyo if United Opposition po yung pinepeg niyo sa candidates nyo. No other candidate can represent the marginalized sector but him. He has been fighting with them for the longest time. #WeWantNeri,” Anthony Trovela, chairperson of the Philippine Medical Students’ Association, said.
“We want to see and actualize true unity to rise from this quagmire of a Duterte leadership. But this cannot be done without standing alongside social forces that have consistently fought for the marginalized and stood up against the anti-people, macho-fascist regime. #WeWantNeri,” Joms Salvador, Gabriela party’s secretary-general, said.
The hashtag also reached Facebook, as seen in a post of former social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo.
“Kung pag-unite ng matibay na oposisyon kay Duterte at Marcos ang hangad natin at mawakasan na ang kanilang paghahari o panunumbalik sa Malacañang, mahalagang haligi ang Makabayan at mga pwersa na sa mahabang panahon ay tumindig laban sa tiraniya, korapsyon, palpak na pandemic response, paggiit sa soberaniya at may malinaw na suporta ng masa, mga propesyonal, at mga patriotikong pwersa,” she wrote.
“Neri Colmenares, makabayang kandidato para sa Senado!
#wewantneri,” Taguiwalo added.
Colmenares said that Robredo’s decision on who to include in her senatorial slate is “her prerogative” and thanked Supreme Court retired senior associate justice Antonio Carpio and the coalition 1Sambayan for including him in their lineup before.
“My resolve to run for the Senate is based on the need to give the poor and marginalized a strong voice in the legislature. We in Makabayan have always relied on the support of various groups and the people for progressive and pro-people independent candidates like me,” he tweeted.
“I would like to assure the people that Makabayan will not be distracted from its quest to write finis to the tyrannical reign of Pres. Duterte,” Colmenares added.
“We will employ our 3.5 million voter base, our national campaign machinery, our social media warriors, and poll watchers nationwide to push for the people’s agenda in the Senate and oppose the efforts of Duterte and Marcos to return to Malacañang,” he further said.
Colmenares has been included in the senatorial slate of the Pacquiao-Atienza tandem but according to Raoul Manuel of the Kabataan party-list, there was no deal between the Makabayan bloc and Pacquiao’s camp.
The senatorial aspirant has been a three-term representative for Bayan Muna and a senior deputy minority leader in the 16th Congress.
Colmenares also sponsored the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Law, the Human Rights Victims Reparation Law, the Anti-Torture Law, the Local Absentee Voting Act for Media and the Special Election Precincts for PWDs and Senior Citizens Act.
He also acted as a petitioner or counsel in the complaint filed by mothers of extrajudicial killing victims in the International Criminal Court, being a human rights lawyer.
Colmenares advocates for free public health services, an established national minimum wage for workers and agrarian reform and agro-industrial development.
He also pushes for the prioritization of the COVID-19 pandemic response and healthcare, as well as livelihood and job generation in the national budget.