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Neri says he will not concede defeat to ‘abnormal elections’

Makabayan senatorial bet Neri Colmenares said he will not concede defeat in the face of massive fraud in Monday’s national polls.

Citing “brazen” illegal partisan activities by the police and military against Makabayan’s national and local bets, Colmenares said he remains undefeated by the elections that are “not normal.”

“How can I concede to a rotten electoral exercise that has basically deceived, bribed, intimidated and manipulated our people into electing the worst kinds of leaders imaginable? I cannot,” he said.

“It would have been easy to concede had I lost in a fair and honest elections. But this year’s elections were hardly fair or honest. Besides, this is no longer about me but about giving our people a fair chance to exercise their constitutional right to suffrage,” Colmenares explained.

The former Bayan Muna representative, who has remained at the 24th spot since the start of the canvassing, accused Rodrigo Duterte government of unleashing intensified, tokhang-style police and military operations in Bicol, Eastern and Western Visayas that are known progressive bailiwicks meant to prevent Makabayan supporters from voting.

Northern Dispatch also reported that Makabayan supporters received death threats to dissuade them from campaigning and voting in Cagayan Valley.

In addition to Mindanao still languishing under Martial Law, the massive human rights abuses also resulted in at least two massacres and a state of terror in communities during the campaing period, Colmenares said.

The activist candidate also said the Philippine National Police were caught red-handed distributing black propaganda materials against Makabayan in various polling centers in Metro Manila on election day.

‘Duterte as first violator’

Colmenares said it was President Duterte who led in the violation of various election laws.

“We saw how the President, using his presidential platform, led the vilification of the opposition and progressive candidates, dishing out insults and lies at every opportunity. This year, honesty as a qualification for public office was openly thrown out the window. And vote buying was justified by the highest official of the land,” Colmenares said.

He added that Duterte and his allies threatened and intimidated local politicians into supporting their candidates and denying the opposition and progressive candidates the opportunity to campaign at the grassroots.

“I have never seen so fearful a set of local politicians than now,” he revealed.

Colmenares also cited how the Duterte administration used government resources, funds and facilities to promote pro-Administration candidates, especially those favored by the President.

Widespread violations by administration candidates

Colmenares said pro-administration parties and candidates openly broke election rules that should not have been allowed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec)

“We saw how the rules – from postering and other campaign activities to widespread vote buying – were being flouted with impunity up to election day, and the Comelec blind or helpless about it,” Colmenares said.

He said he saw how candidates were already campaigning, spending hundreds of millions on TV and radio advertisments prior to campaign period.

“But that was nothing compared to the deluge of ads during the campaign period, skirting whatever limits we’re supposed to have on campaign spending and advertising,” Colmenares said.

Machine failure

There were unprecedented failures in the vote counting machines and SD cards used to run those machines on election day itself, Colmenares said.

He also cited the withholding of transmitted results from the public for seven hours Monday evening on “some flimsy technical glitch that had never happened in the past three automated elections.”

“Many of us slept and woke up to the TV screen showing 12 winning senators, not knowing what happened,” he revealed.

He also recalled that he filed resolutions to investigate election fraud in the automated election in his three terms in Congress as Bayan Muna representative.# (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Neri Colmenares files certificate of candidacy for the Senate in 2019 polls

Neri Colmenares filed his certificate of candidacy at the Commission on Elections on Thursday, October 11, vowing to continue his advocacy for people’s rights and interests if elected.

The official candidate of the Makabayan Coalition of progressive parties, Colmenares vowed to fight against measures that contribute to the people’s poverty, such as the Duterte government’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law.

Instead of anti-people laws, Colmenares said there should be more pro-people measures, such as those that would ensure permanent jobs, lower prices of commodities and free social services, especially for the poor.

Colmenares is the author of the law that increased SSS pensions, as well as measures against electricity and water hikes.

He also pushed for passenger rights, anti-torture, free hazard warning through mobile phone services and many others. # (Video by Joseph Cuevas)

Bayan Muna: SSS using old scare tactics to avoid pension hike

Social Security System (SSS) president Emmanuel Dooc is using old scare tactics for the fund to defer payment of pension increases, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Bayan Muna chairman and former Rep. Neri Colmenares said.

Reacting to a statement by Dooc that the SSS may suffer bankruptcy if it is forced to pay additional P2.5 billion a month to pensioners starting 2019, the Bayan Muna leaders said the government-owned corporation has more than enough time to find additional sources of income to pay the 2,000 pesos monthly pension increase of its members.

“This is the same scare tactic used by the previous SSS administration. It would be well for Dooc to stop scaring the people [with] this phantom adverse effect once the current pension is increased,” added Rep. Zarate.

In response to Dooc’s statement that SSS needs to hike the members’ monthly payments to fund the pension increase, Zarate said that the House Joint Resolution No. 10 passed by the House of Representatives in 2017 mandating the SSS pension increase does not allow for an increase in premium contribution.

“The present SSS leadership has assured to institute needed reforms to improve its fund life. What happened to these reforms? Again, it is best for the SSS board and management to support the pension increase and work with Congress in looking for means to increase its current fund life,” Zarate said.

Colmenares for his part said that Dooc should stop deluding the people that SSS has no funds for the second tranche P1,000 pension increase.

“They are trying to sabotage the distribution of the P1,000 pension increase, even if it [SSS] has actually admitted several times that it has the funds for the pension increase. At most, the increase will only shorten the SSS fund life to 2026 instead of the current 2032, based on the SSS’ own computations,” Colmenares said.

Colmenares said that even if the shortened fund life is true, eight years is more than enough time for the government and SSS to find ways other than increasing members’ premium payments.

“In 2001, SSS declared that it has a fund life of only five years and yet it was able to increase this to 2042 in just 14 years. If it previously survived a five year fund life, then surely it can also survive an eight year fund life,” he said.

Colmenares said the SSS is in fact in better shape than its counterparts in United Kingdom (UK), which has a fund life of only up to 2027, and Canada, which has a fund life until 2022.

Colmenares said the SSS could instead implement the following:

  • improve collection efficiency from the employers of its 31 Million members;
  • collect the billions in contributions, which delinquent employers failed to remit in the last ten years;
  • cut down in bonuses and perks given to its Board members and collect the disallowed more than P200 Million  retirement package given to SSS Board Members in 2009; and
  • collect the fines imposed by the courts against employers who violated the SSS law.

“If these are not enough, then Congress can always provide for subsidies as provided under Section 20 of RA 8282 as amended. There is no way that the SSS will go bankrupt since under Section 21of the said law, the Philippine government guarantees the benefits and solvency of the SSS,”  Colmenares said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)