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Joma hits Neri exclusion in Leni-Kiko ticket

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Communist leader Jose Maria Sison frowned upon the exclusion of Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares in the partial senatorial ticket of Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan for the 2022 national elections, where they are vying for the top two government posts.

Sison, who has been in self-exile in The Netherlands, lamented on Saturday that Colmenares was absent from the 11-man lineup, which he also criticized for the inclusion of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “longtime” allies.

“The former clear-cut status of the ‘pink’ presidential candidate as opposition is now decreased by the exclusion of Neri Colmenares from her senatorial slate and the inclusion of longtime Duterte loyalists,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

Sison also criticized the dominance of familiar names during elections, adding that there were only few candidates from the poor sectors and even in the lower middle class.

“The representatives of the lower middle class and the toiling masses of workers and peasants who run as candidates at the national level are so few,” he said.

Sison was not the first to express disappointment over Robredo-Pangilinan’s slate, which prides itself as a “united opposition” seeking to shake Duterte’s grip on power in 2022.

Progressive coalition Laban ng Masa, fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas, and Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women were also dismayed over the ticket, describing it as “more of a representation of traditional politicians and their political interests than a representation of the marginalized.”

“Traditional Philippine politics is the playground of the elite, landlords, billionaires and giant corporations. It is a game of numbers, popularity, bailiwicks and money, and it is within this framework that VP Leni Robredo has chosen her senatorial slate,” Laban ng Masa said.

On Friday, #WeWantNeri also emerged as one of the top trending topics on Twitter as thousands of social media users questioned Colmenares’ exclusion from Robredo’s ticket.

In a press conference, the vice president expressed hopes that the last spot in her slate would represent marginalized sectors, which could likely see Colmenares and labor leader Sonny Matula of the Federation of Free Workers battling it out.

On Twitter, Colmenares welcomed Robredo’s senatorial slate, saying it was her prerogative to choose who would be included in her ticket.

He then reiterated that the Makabayan bloc has been relying on public support and has been employing its 3.5 million voter base and national campaign machinery.

Meanwhile, opposition coalition group 1Sambayan vowed to “unconditionally support” the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket, but said it would soon announce its own senatorial slate.

“We support VP Leni in her continued effort to seek unity among political parties,” the group said, as it also reminded the presidential aspirant to ensure that her senatorial ticket is composed of leaders with integrity, solid leadership, and established track records as public servants.

“Our objective to build a formidable slate representing the broadest possible coalition is almost complete. As the campaign nears, we now prepare for a long battle ahead,” 1Sambayan added.

Trillanes to blame
Colmenares claimed that former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had opposed his inclusion in Vice President Leni Robredo’s senatorial slate.

In a television interview, Colmenares bared that Trillanes had raised his supposed links to the armed communist insurgency and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, who is among Robredo’s opponents for the presidency, to supposedly block his inclusion in the opposition ticket.

“There were some representatives of the vice president who called me up to discuss that I’m being considered. However, there were objections,” he told Christian Esguerra’s “After the Fact” program on Friday night.

Asked to specify who opposed his inclusion, Colmenares cited Trillanes, who is part of the ticket which has been described as the “unified opposition.”

The progressive lawmaker said that while he respects Robredo’s decision to exclude him from the slate, he was disappointed that the said allegations were raised against him.

with Michelle Guillang

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