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Willing to work with friends, ex-foes

01:20 AM October 07, 2015

This is in reaction to your editorial “Party time” (10/1/15), in which you make derogatory remarks over Bayan Muna’s perceived alliance with former president Joseph Estrada. You go as far as to insinuate that we are playing the same game that traditional parties like the Nacionalistas and Liberals play.

For the record, Mr. Estrada attended the Makabayan Coalition’s national convention last Sept. 30 as a guest and in his capacity as host, being the mayor of Manila where the event was held. To our pleasant surprise, in his speech he endorsed our senatorial candidate, Rep. Neri Colmenares. Apparently the Inquirer editors feel we have compromised our principles because of this.

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Is it wrong for Mr. Estrada to endorse a candidate who he believes can truly represent the common tao in the Senate? I don’t think so. He has explained why he respects and admires Representative Colmenares despite the fact that Neri was part of the oust-Estrada movement 14 years ago. He said: “If Neri can do many good things for the people as congressman, how much more as senator?” As a former senator himself, perhaps Mr. Estrada knows good material when he sees it.

Is it wrong for Representative Colmenares and Makabayan to welcome Mr. Estrada’s endorsement? I don’t think so. In 2007, then Rep. Benigno S. Aquino III ran for the Senate under the Genuine Opposition led and endorsed by Mr. Estrada. I wonder if the Inquirer ran a similarly scathing editorial that time?

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You confuse Mr. Estrada’s attendance in our event with the traditional parties’ unprincipled “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” type of alliances. You are wrong. Mr. Estrada did not demand anything for his endorsement of Representative Colmenares, and neither did we offer anything in return. We would like to believe that Mr. Estrada understands that we in the progressive movement do things not out of spite, not out of whim, not out of malice or self-interest, but out of principle—specifically, to uphold the people’s interests. That’s probably why, despite our conflicts in the past, he treats us with respect.

“What progressive principle justifies Bayan Muna’s embrace of Estrada?” you ask. In the first place, what happened was no embrace but more of a shaking of hands. But here’s my answer anyway: the principle of unity and struggle.

Progressives are conscious that in politics, people and situations change, and alliances are constantly shifting. To pursue our agenda of reform, we are always ready to unite on the basis of the people’s pressing issues even as we struggle over other issues. The question we must really ask is: Are we sacrificing our principles and the people’s interests just for the sake of unity? Let me assure you that in this case, we are not.

In our effort to put a good man in the Senate and in our quest for social change, we are willing to work with friends and former enemies as long as it benefits the people. As long as Mr. Estrada does not stop us from pursuing the economic wellbeing of our people, social justice, human rights, democratic governance and national sovereignty, then his help will always be most welcome.

—TEDDY CASIÑO, former Bayan Muna representative, vice president, Makabayan Coalition

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TAGS: Bayan Muna, Joseph Estrada, Makabayan coalition, Neri Colmenares
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