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Individuals and groups called on the campaign team of presidential aspirant Vice President (VP) Leni Robredo to endorse the senatorial bid of human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares after the eviction of re-electionist Senator Miguel Zubiri from her senate slate.
Zubiri was dropped from the senate lineup due to his endorsement of dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos in the presidential race.
Last year, Colmenares and Sonny Matula of the Federation of Free Workers were shortlisted for the 12th spot in Robredo’s senate lineup, where the latter was eventually chosen.
Colmenares, a former lawmaker under the progressive Makabayan coalition, is already included in the senate ticket of opposition coalition 1Sambayan. Citing unity points in stances, the Makabayan bloc endorsed VP Robredo and Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s bid for the top posts in government last January 28.
In some of Robredo’s campaign rallies, Colmenares was allowed to deliver speeches. The lawyer-activist usually spends his allotted time in the program campaigning for VP Robredo.
Neri Colmenares: “Si Leni Robredo, rumerespeto sa karapatang pantao. Hindi siya human rights violator.” He spends more time hyping her up in the sorties. He deserves to share the stage with her—and thousands of Kakampinks made it clear in Pasig: we will stand against red-tagging. pic.twitter.com/1NenhOVoYr
— Philip Jamilla (@pmjamilla) March 21, 2022
— Agham Youth National (@AghamYouth_Natl) April 27, 2022
Supporters cite the senatorial aspirant’s experience as a veteran human rights lawyer and history of working with members of the marginalized sectors of society as grounds in pushing for his inclusion in Robredo’s currently 11-person senatorial slate.
A stalwart critic of the Duterte administration, Colmenares was also an activist who resisted the Marcos dictatorship during the martial law period, where he survived torture and detention under state forces.
Chances for Colmenares, however, were not met with high hopes. In a statement, Office of the Vice President Spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said that VP Robredo will proceed with the current slate composition.
“With 12 days remaining before elections, we are moving forward with our 11-candidate Senate slate,” Gutierrez said in a statement.
Basti Evangelista is a news and opinion writer who focuses on Philippine national politics and sectoral issues. His personal advocacy includes press freedom and social justice.
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