Yesterday, me and several members of the KABATAAN Online Team (namely Faye, Pia, Mark, Erica, Mamay, Jerome, and Joy) went to the Bloggers’ Q&A with senatoriables Satur Ocampo & Liza Maza. Some acquaintances said there was no need for me to attend since I would definitely vote for them even without hearing them. The sentence would be partly right, since anyone who follows local news regularly would be aware of Satur & Liza, and that I would definitely vote for them even for just being representatives of Bayan Muna and Gabriela (which is already an impressive credential for one’s nationalist reputation). But I was really curious to hear them out, especially in such an informal setting where anyone could throw questions (even those who were watching the Q&A online).

It was such a shame that most of us got wind of the event at short notice, since many netizens were interested about the event. Even so, the Lean Alejandro Hall (the venue, in UP Diliman) was crowded. And more than 12,000 people watched the event online. That’s pretty impressive for such a short-notice event.

Right off the bat, Satur was asked about the anti-corruption section of his platform. In reply, he cited just one part: We will immediately prosecute GMA for her crimes. That already says a lot: most senatoriables, vice-presidentiables, and even presidentiables are afraid to cross the evil bitch for various reasons. Satur & Liza’s willingness to prosecute is the best testament for where their loyalties truly lie: the Filipino public which is tired and disgusted with nine years of Arroyo rule. And while pro-admin elements are quick to dismiss it as “gimmickry”, its actually a good way to start an anti-corruption campaign: by going after the big fish with no special treatment. Mid and low-levelbad apples in the government will be more hesitant if they know that even the Chief Executive will be held accountable.

Some people would disagree with politics, specifically the ideals and ideological leanings, of Satur and Liza. But certainly no one could question their competence as legislators. When they were asked “Why should we vote for (the two of) you over all the other candidates?“, Satur simply answered

Kami ang track record namin ay ang siyam na taon sa Kongreso. Ano ang mga naipasang batas. We’re very solid.

If national politics are the same as UP campus politics, Satur & Liza wouldn’t have to make any fancy slogans, ads, online campaigns, and other gimmicks. They’d simply have to mention their track record as three-term partylist representatives and they’d win by a landslide.

A short visit to the House of Representatives’ official website is already telling. When you open Satur and Liza’s profile pages, the scroll bar is very thin because the page is so long with all the bills and resolutions they have authored, co-authored, and sponsored. On the other hand, you could count with the your fingers and toes the legislative output of other congressmen/women, especially other partylist representatives. And for the other congressmen/women, most of the bills in their profiles are only there because they sponsored it, meaning they agreed to put their signature on it. It’s way different from authoring/co-authoring bills, meaning you taught of the bill, and planned and researched and did all the other things to make it into something deserving to be put into law.

And that’s just for one term. If you’ll check the websites of their respective partylist groups (Satur’s Bayan Muna, and Liza’s Gabriela), you’ll see that they’ve probably churned out more than a thousand laws, bills, and resolutions since they were first elected.

And to top it off, most of them aren’t the laws that typically pad a trapo congressman’s resume, like the renaming of places in his/her constituency. These are actually laws that a lot of people have heard of and have benefited from, such as

Anti-Torture Law

Abolition of the Death Penalty

Magna Carta of Women

Overseas Absentee Voting

Tax Relief for Minimum Wage Earners

Strengthening of the Public Attorney’s Office

Anti-Violence against Women & Children

Rent Control

Anti-Trafficking in Persons

In many other questions during the Q&A, we would return to the theme of actions speak louder than words. Liza Maza mentioned that they were the ones who drafted the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, the strongest piece of pro-farmer legislation in our history yet, and that they would certainly be the ones (and probably the only ones) who’d push for the Bill in the Senate. Again, it shows you which side they are: while other congressmen and senators stay away from the Bill out of fear of the powerful rural landlords, Ocampo and Maza fearlessly push for it.

And with the question Bakit kayo dapat iboto ng mga kabataan, I could have stood up and answered. And not just me, but the thousands of youths who have witnessed Satur and Liza’s championing of the cause of youth and students. Whenever the national budget was being deliberated upon, or issues involving state universities (such as the UP Charter) were being discussed, their offices would be the among the few who would invite us to ask us for our side on the issue and our inputs and comments. Whenever we would picket Congress to demand a higher budget for education, they would actually take the time to go out, explain to us the progress of their lobbying, and even personally negotiate with the rabid House guards from violently dispersing us. When UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan were abducted, they were the ones who authored the resolutions demanding the release of the two from the AFP. And they would be the ones who helped provide the funds to reconstruct the student tambayans in the UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy.

I only got to ask one question (Starstruck? I’m not sure): If you could choose any historical figure from Phil. history to run alongside you in the elections, who, and why?

Satur chose former senators Claro M. Recto, Wigberto Tañada, and Jose Diokno. Why? In his own words Their nationalism and competence as legislators are unquestionable (if you haven’t heard of those three, you seriously need to review your Philippine history). Recto was the voice of nationalism during the 50s, a time where being makabayan automatically made you an enemy of the state. Tañada and Diokno meanwhile, consistently fought side-by-side with the Left against the Marcos dictatorship.

Actually, we don’t need to read up on magical rites on reviving the dead to have lawmakers whose actually follow the dictum My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins. Because we already have two: Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza.

When they were first nominated to run for Congress under Bayan Muna in 2001, it was in essence a challenge for them instill in the House good governance and provide a voice for the marginalized. Nine years after, they not only accepted the challenge, they have made good on their promises. Now, the challenge is directed towards us: there are finally two national-level candidates who are unquestionably for the people. And it is us, the people, who will decide whether they will serve us in the Senate, or not.

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