THE REPRESENTATIVE of a party-list of former military officers on Monday challenged the government’s anti-communist task force to prove their accusation that Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo, whom the group is supporting for president in the May elections, is connected with the New People’s Army (NPA).
“I am one of the former soldiers aligned with the Robredo camp. And I can say with certainty, we also do not want a coalition with the NPA,” Magdalo Para sa Pilipino Rep. Manuel DG. Cabochan III said in a statement.
The NPA comprise the armed fighters of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“We are clearly against it… But there is no coalition with the NPA in the first place,” he said.
Mr. Cabochan said he is ready to give up his congressional seat if the National Task Force on Ending Local Communists Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) can prove their allegation.
“Now, if the NTF-ELCAC can show proof today, aside from fake witnesses, that there is a coalition between the NPA and the Robredo Camp, I will resign as the incumbent representative and nominee of the Magdalo Party-List,” he said.
The Magdalo party-list, which represents retired soldiers, was founded by Samahang Magdalo in 2010. Samahang Magdalo is connected to the Magdalo Group, which led the Oakwoad mutiny and the Manila Peninsula siege that both sought to oust former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Former Colonel Ariel O. Querubin, who was a colleague of Mr. Cabochan in the Magdalo Group, said in a statement last week that he will not back Ms. Robredo after being told by senior police officers and representatives from the NTF-ELCAC that her group was associated with the NPA.
Mr. Querubin, together with former police and military officials have said they will support the presidential bid of the late dictator’s son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr.
In the Senate race, Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros-Baraquel, who is seeking reelection, promised support for workers and the end of contractualization if she wins another term.
She plans to push for the Balik Trabahong Ligtas Bill, which aims to give public and private sector employees additional benefits such as life insurance.
Ms. Hontiveros, who earlier filed the Security of Tenure Bill, also pointed out the need to remove the so-called “endo” or “5-5-5” system, wherein workers’ contracts are terminated before they reach the minimum period that makes them eligible for certain benefits.
“It’s time for endo or 5-5-5 to end,” she said in a statement. “Let us give job security and corresponding benefits to every Filipino.”
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” I. Diokno, who is running for a senate seat, expressed his disappointment over the Philippine National Police’s failure to investigate the alleged rampant smuggling of agricultural products into the country.
“This is the kind of organized crime that our law enforcers should be prioritizing,” he said, noting that this has led to revenue loss and adverse effects on the livelihood of local farmers and fishermen.
If elected, Mr. Diokno plans to provide free legal assistance in every barrio, or remote communities.
He will also push for an independent commission to investigate abuses allegedly committed or instigated by persons in authority.
In this way, he said, cover-ups will be avoided and all violators of the law will be equally penalized. — Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan