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Matula is in, Colmenares out for Leni

Vice President and presidential candidate Leni Robredo has named labor leader Sonny Matula as her 12th bet on her Senate slate for the coming 2022 elections – leaving out another aspirant from the left, Neri Colmenares.

The Vice President announced this, three days after Matula of the Labor Party Philippines and others under the umbrella group Alliance of Labor Leaders for Leni (ALL 4 Leni) expressed unconditional support for Robredo’s 2022 presidential bid, whether Matula made the Senate slate or not.

“I am pushing Sonny Matula of the Labor Party of the Philippines. He has a clear track record in fighting for the rights of Filipino workers and stood up against big corporations with his principles and skill as a lawyer,” Robredo said in a video message.

“Attorney Matula has been pushing for labor rights, an advocacy that I have also been fighting for way before I entered politics. As a labor advocate, I am assured that he will fight for what is right, what is good and what is just,” she added.

Matula will join the 11 Senate bets earlier announced by Robredo and her running mate, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, which include incumbent Senators Richard Gordon, Joel Villanueva, Miguel Zubiri, Risa Hontiveros, and Leila de Lima, former Vice President Jejomar Binay, former congressman Teddy Baguilat, Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, and Alex Lacson of Kapatiran.

In a statement, Colmenares reiterated that those who will complete Robredo’s senatorial slate is a decision to be made by the Vice President.

“My non-inclusion in her slate does not preclude us from continuing engagement and cooperation with her campaign on urgent issues that concern our people,” Colmenares said.

“The most urgent of these issues is preventing a Marcos restoration and a Duterte extension amid the continuing pandemic and the worsening crisis in the country,” he added.

Robredo argued that Matula’s inclusion is not a matter of convenience, but of duty.

“Him joining us is not a matter of completing a transaction but rejecting the old and rotten politics rooted in hunger, poverty and death of many Filipinos,” Robredo said.

“It is clear to him how high the stakes are in the next elections, and he did not hesitate in sharing his strength with us to ensure that come May 2022, the new government which is competent, efficient and humane will emerge victorious,” she added.

Matula, in a separate statement, said his inclusion proves that Robredo is on the side of labor rights.

“It is a great honor to be her candidate for the Senate. This shows that the Vice President is serious in pushing for labor rights and other sectors,” he said in Filipino.

Matula said it is only fitting that Robredo’s people’s campaign will include a candidate in the Senate from the ranks of laborers.

“I am very happy, alongside with all of our allies, for the trust given to us by Vice President Leni. We will not let you down, and we will join you in this fight against corruption and the rights of our people until we win this. Power to the people,” he added.

Before this, Matula said his inclusion in Robredo’s Senate slate will be better for the vice president given that she shares his five-point agenda, which includes ending contractualization, national minimum wage, freedom of association/stopping of union busting, strengthening public health system and employment guarantees for displaced workers, among others.

“If we make the list, we will strengthen our fight and chances to win measures for labor rights,” Matula said.

The ALL 4 Leni group boasts of 350,000 members nationwide and aims to deliver around two million votes for Robredo in the 2022 polls.

Robredo earlier said the 12th slot in her Senate slate will best represent the marginalized sector.

Meanwhile, Colmenares, the Bayan Muna chairperson renewed his call for the “broad democratic forces to unite against the emerging Marcos-Duterte alliance.”

“Our differences notwithstanding, let us not lose sight of the bigger fight before us. It is my hope that we continue to work together to defeat the forces of tyranny and corruption,” he said.

Colmenares’ candidacy is supported by the Makabayan Coalition, which has not expressed support to any presidential candidate yet.

Topics: Leni Robredo , Sonny Matula , Neri Colmenares , Alliance of Labor Leaders for Leni
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