Former Akbayan party-list representative seeks to forge new non-Liberal Party-linked opposition

Former Akbayan party-list representative Walden Bello pointed out how thousands of people, mostly poor, have been killed in the anti-narcotics drive of Duterte.

Laban ng Masa (the fight of the masses) chairman was formed to oppose President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs without aligning itself Duterte’s staunchest critic — the Liberal Party (LP).

Laban ng Masa is a coalition of labor and civil society groups like Partido Lakas ng Masa, Alliance of TriPeople for the Achievement of Human Rights, National Federation of Labor, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, and Katarungan at Alab Katipunan.

But the coalition, Bello said, is not part of any plot to destabilize the government. He also noted that none of Laban ng Masa’s members were allies of the previous administration when Benigno Aquino III was president.

Bello said that he distanced the coalition from other groups like the House Makabayan blog and Tindig Pilipinas (Stand Philippines), which counts groups and personalities linked with the LP as its members.

LP was the former ruling party under Aquino. In March, Duterte’s running-mate and then Senator Allan Peter Cayetano accused LP of hatching “destabilization” plots against the Duterte government.

In 2015, Bello resigned as the Akbayan representative in Congress and called the Aquino administration “a disgrace.” Akbayan is a party-list that considers itself politically progressive and allied itself with LP in 2010.

In a column Bello wrote after his resignation, he criticized Aquino for failing to address economic inequality and allowing the pork barrel scam to happen under his watch. Bello also criticized the former president for his failure of leadership during the botch 2015 Mamasapano.

In the same interview with ABS-CBN News, Bello alleged that Duterte has sided with the ruling class instead of delivering his election promises of abolishing labor contractualization, curbing destructive mining practices and returning coco levy funds to farmers.

“His rhetoric is pro-masses, but in truth, he has become a representative of the ruling class. their essence is pro-elite,” Bello told radio station DZMM in Filipino.

“Laban ng Masa has to expose this. We want to show that this is an administration that is not only brutal, but it upholds inequality,” said Bello, who is also an academic who has a Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University.

He also accused Duterte of attempting to “consolidate the monopoly of power” in his push for a federal system of government and threat to set up a revolutionary government or declare martial law.

Duterte and his allies have maintained that suspects killed in the war on drugs have resisted arrest. Malacañang has also denied that the campaign is targeting the poor.