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Makabayan supporters hold victory party amid claims of vote-rigging

28 May 2019

By Daisy CL Mandap

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Makabayan HK says thanks despite its unexpected poor showing in the recent polls  

Shaking off an unexpectedly poor turnout in Hong Kong for their candidates, supporters of the Makabayan political bloc in the Philippines had a victory and thanksgiving party at Repulse Bay on May 27.

As most of their leaders said at the gathering, “Hindi sa eleksyon nagtatapos ang lahat. Ituloy ang laban.”
But they also had reasons to celebrate. Their perennial top-drawer among the party-lists, Bayan Muna, still won three seats in Congress, although it surprisingly took a backseat to newbie pro-administration group, ACT-CIS, in the national vote.

“That was a real surprise, as Bayan Muna consistently ranked first in the surveys,” said Makabayan Hong Kong spokesperson Eman Villanueva.
Other affiliated groups, Gabriela, ACT Teachers and Kabataan each won a seat, but a fourth, Anakpawis, failed to garner enough votes to regain its Congress slot.

It was a hard-fought win, as the leftist bloc came under heavy red-tagging campaign by pro-administration candidates during the election period.

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The leftist bloc vows to fight on
But Makabayan’s attempt to secure a seat in the Senate through former Rep. Neri Colmenares, failed anew.

In Hong Kong, the trouncing was more severe, as Colmenares came only at no 21, way below the 12 winning slots, but still ahead than all the opposition candidates who ran under the Otso Diretso banner.

In the party-list vote, Bayan Muna was relegated only to the fifth slot, after ACT CIS, the Jesus Is Lord-backed CIBAC or Citizens Battle Against Corruption, the pro-administration’s AA Kasosyo, and Sagip, which was pushed by the Iglesia Ni Cristo church.

It was the first time since overseas elections were held in 2004 that the top party-list slot was not won by the leftist bloc.
In a statement released a day after the election on May 13, Villanueva denounced what he called the “dirty, deadly, deceptive elections by a desperate Duterte.”

The statement alleged that the Duterte administration had pulled out all stops to ensure victory, especially in the Senate, through vote buying, intimidation of opponents, and patronage politics.
These allegedly happened on top of some electronic tampering that ensured a near-sweep of the elections by pro-administration candidates.

Still, Villanueva said that while it was the dirtiest elections since the time of the late dictator Ferdinand E, Marcos, it also forged unity among the opposition.

“The recent elections have shown how opposition to the administration is spreading across political parties and blocs,” he said.
Indeed, this appeared to be the case in Hong Kong, when Makabayan campaigners often had to link arms with supporters of Otso Diretso, as they had four common candidates for the Senate.

At the victory party, a big group of Otso supporters also came to show solidarity and echo calls for further cooperation to stop what they see as a looming dictatorship by President Duterte.

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A nationalistic beauty contest to lighten the mood
But it was not all serious talk at the beachfront party, as about 100 Makabayan volunteers and their guests played games, shared a hearty lunch, swam, and even staged a beauty and talent contest.

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