MANILA, Philippines – The Anakpawis Party-list filed its candidacy for party-list representation in the House of Representatives at the Commission on Elections central office in Manila early morning. The group that is established to advocate workers and farmers rights in congress has submitted a 36-year old leader of the Kilusang Mayo Uno of Southern Mindanao Region (KMU – SMR) and Anakpawis Party-list – Southern Mindanao Region, Ariel Casilao as its first nominee. This 16th congress, Anakpawis’ representative is the poorest congressman Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap, national chairperson of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya – Pilipinas) and a coconut farmer from the Bicol region.
“Kami ay nag-file sa Comelec ng aming candidacy upang ituluy-tuloy ang paglaban sa mga kontra-mamamayang pakana ng gubyernong Aquino at ng susunod rito. First nominee namin si Ariel Casilao, na batikang aktibista para sa interes ng mga manggagawa, magsasaka, mga katutubo at mamamayan ng Mindanao,” (We filed our candidacy to continue to oppose the anti-people measures of the Aquino government and its successor. Our first nominee is Ariel Casilao, a skilled activists for the interests of workers, farmers, indigenous and people of Mindano) Hicap said during the filing.
Anakpawis platform mainly revolves from the advancement of genuine land reform, increase in wages of workers, stop to demolition of urban poor communities, protection of human rights and right to social services, to assertion of national interest and sovereignty, and opposition to anti-people programs and policies. Its flagship legislative measure are the House Bill No. 252, the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) that proposes free land distribution to farmers and nationalization of agricultural lands, HB 253, the P125-across the board wage hike, HB 3015, the P6000-salary increase for public sector workers, HB 1327, the creation of Small Coconut Farmers’ Fund to recover and return ill-gotten coconut levy fund during the martial law period, repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law, repeal of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) Law, repeal of the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) and many more.
Anakpawis was represented by labor leader Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran and peasant leader Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano since the 13th congress and was consistent in pressing on issues of agrarian reform, labor, prices of basic services and goods and other people’s issues. Since 2013 during this 16th congress, Hicap represented Anakpawis.
“Hindi matatawaran ang rekord ni Ka Ariel dahil mula sa pagiging kabataang-estudyante nito, tuloy-tuloy siyang nakibaka para sa masa, at may panahon pang hinarap niya ang terorismo ng Oplan Bantay Laya sa ilalim ng berdugong si Jovito Palparan,” (Casilao’s record of activism is reputable as since being a youth-student, he has committed to serve the masses, with a certain period facing state terrorism under Oplan Bantay Laya led by the butcher Jovito Palparan) Hicap said.
Anakpawis said that Casilao was a founding member of Anakbayan in 1998, became the secretary-general of Karapatan Southern Mindanao during the early years of the Arroyo regime, became a leader of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Bayan Muna, Makabayan Coalition and finally becoming a leader and spokesperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno and Anakpawis Party-list. The group’s second nominee is the national chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Anakpawis National President and former representative Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, third is Randall Echanis, Anakpawis’ National Chairman and leader of KMP, fourth is Joseph Canlas, chairperson of Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) and regional coordinator of Anakpawis and fifth is Pedro Gonzales, chairperson of Pamalakaya – Southern Tagalog and leader of Kasama – TK (Southern Tagalog farmers).
“Lalong mahihirapan ang mga mambabatas sa kongreso na sumasagasa sa interes ng mga manggagawa at magsasaka dahil sa kabataan ni Ka Ariel, ang kanyang talino at listo ang siyang magbabantay at haharang sa kanilang mga pakana,” (Lawmakers in congress who work against the interests of workers and farmers would find it hard to engage Casilao as brought about by his youth, his intellect and alertness would serve as watchful eyes against their schemes) Hicap said.
Anakpawis called on members of every chapter, as well as to farmers who are being displaced from their lands, workers who continue to be exploited by their employes and residents of urban poor communities to rally behind the group and Casilao for the advancement of their rights and reforms in governance. ###