tom villarinAkbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin urged the public to remain vigilant and hold President Rodrigo Duterte accountable for his words in the campaign trail and and his actions as the highest elected official in the land.

"This administration should be as eager in ending contractualization and providing regular jobs, as they are in ending criminality and drug trade. After all, the tendency to take on illegitimate sources of income can be related to the lack of regular and decent jobs," Villarin stressed.

During the campaign, Duterte's promised to end the practice of "endo" or contractual labor but the issue was barely elaborated in his address.

"We welcome President Rodrigo Duterte's vision of a country that respects and upholds the law. But as we look and move forward, we must learn from our experience of social injustice and inequality as a people," the lawmaker said.

This was in reference to the President's commitment to hold betrayers of public trust accountable yet allowing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo walk free from all charges against her and former dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

"By allowing these to happen, we reinforce inequality and defend the status quo where rich and powerful criminals are legally protected while the poor are summarily executed. That is not change," Villarin said.

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tom villarinAs Congress starts its regular session today, Akbayan Party-list Representative Tom Villarin announced his plans to remain in the minority, no matter the results of the bid for House Speakership may be.

"It is a vote for real checks and balances, of preserving Congress as a democratic institution," Villarin stressed.

In a previous statement, the Akbayan solon has announced that the party-list will "engage the Duterte administration along its goals of fighting poverty, achieving just and sustainable peace, pursuing an independent foreign policy that aims for amity with all nations and asserts our sovereignty, and upholding the rule of law at all times."

By pursuing these, Akbayan is keen on moving forward with its agenda independent of any other political bloc's support.

"Akbayan votes to be with an independent minority. We will continue to be a voice of reason, of ferreting out the truth, and will engage the majority based on principles and for the common good," the lawmaker said.

Villarin has also appealed to the administration by citing inequality and democracy as issues equally important to criminality and illegal drugs.

"Our people's longing for change expressed through the ballot in the May 2016 elections gave him such mandate and now translates to people's high expectations for this administration to deliver on its promises," Villarin said.

"If the administration goes against the core principles we stand for, we will disagree without being disagreeable," he added. ##

akbayan2014Nothing should inspire the public’s outrage more than the chasm that exists between the haves and have nots in Philippine society.  And what better indicator can there be of inequality than when poor people suspected of involvement in drugs start dropping dead on the streets while the rich and powerful escape plunder charges through the courts?

We must also collectively ponder our values as a nation when we are disgusted when bullets are planted in our luggage, but applaud when bullets are planted in another person’s head.

But the continuing relevance of democracy is that it leaves room to correct injustices where they are prevalent, and it is there where Akbayan intends to channel its energies for the next six years, in spite of, and despite the allure of strong-man solutions to our country’s woes.

On the occasion of President Duterte’s inaugural State of the Nation Address, Akbayan vows to heed the imperative to fight inequality more than ever. Only in a society where opportunities abound for everyone, can drugs and criminality truly subside. There are no magic bullets for change, just the hard work that is required to open up spaces, provide opportunities for the poor while holding the powerful accountable. It is our hope that this be the language we see in the SONA, and more importantly, be embodied in our policies.

Which is why Akbayan will continue to stand for the sanctity of life, and the rights of even the worst among us -- against the hysteria of vengeance, against the bloodlust of some. We will continue to oppose the re-imposition of the death penalty and lowering the age of criminal liability, even as we work doubly harder to enact the laws that will create and protect more jobs against contractualization; fight for the implementation of women’s reproductive rights; the creation of a department that will oversee and protect the welfare of fisherfolks; a law that will bring justice to coconut farmers; laws that will advance the interests and welfare of health workers; widen the spaces that allow youth participation in governance; a law that will ensure LGBTs are able to enjoy their rights to education and employment.

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heroesAkbayan party-list along with other human rights advocates today donned Filipino hero costumes in vehement opposition towards plans to bury former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The groups called on President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his plans to allow a hero's burial for the late dictator, ahead of the scheduled SONA of Pres. Duterte.

“We appeal to President Duterte to scrap plans for a hero's burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and instead focus the energy of his administration towards the recovery of all ill-gotten wealth as well as the pursuit of justice from the Marcoses instead,” said David.

The anti-martial law advocates further emphasized that real change can only happen, not by disregarding the Marcos sins, but by instead seeking accountability for the Filipino people.

“For genuine change to come, there must be justice – every Filipino was conned and victimized by the Marcos dictatorship,” said Akbayan spokesperson Paeng David. “His plunder of the country’s coffers represents taxpayers’ money which went into buying luxury shoes for Imelda and hosting lavish London parties for Bongbong.”

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akbayan2014We join the Filipino people in expressing goodwill to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as he starts his tenure for six years with his first State of the Nation Address.

With power comes great responsibility and accountability. Our people's longing for change expressed through the ballot in the May 2016 elections gave him such mandate and now translates to people's high expectations for this administration to deliver on its promises.

We also welcome Pres. Duterte's affirmation of the rule of law as uncompromising in his first major policy pronouncement. But Akbayan believes that fighting inequality and defending democracy are equally important to the fight against criminality and the drug problem.

Inequality is still a grave problem as the "trickle-down" in economic growth has hardly reached the poor. And even now, it is the poor who suffer the most in the war against drugs.

Vigilantism is on the rise as suspected criminals are killed wantonly with some victims even chopped to pieces. We are greatly alarmed over the increasing number of extrajudicial killings and we support the call for a thorough and impartial investigation of these incidents.

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