Why Neri Colmenares is running for Senate for second time

October 11, 2018 - 2:45 PM
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Senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares with his certificate of candidacy. (Philstar.com/Kat Leandicho)

Former Bayan Muna Party-list representative Neri Colmenares has filed his certificate of candidacy for the May 2019 elections, his second bid at a seat in the upper chamber of Congress.

The former legislator was among the first senatorial hopefuls who filed their candidacies at the Commission on Elections on Thursday.

He was accompanied by supporters from the Bayan Muna Party-list as well as other former and current lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives.

The 58-year old human rights lawyer said in interviews after his filing that he was giving the Senate another shot to be the voice of ordinary citizens.

His platform reportedly will focus on raising the wages of workers, removal of the excise tax, a ban on contractualization and the abolition of the value-added tax on electricity, water and petroleum.

The labor and rights groups aligned with the Makabayan bloc as well as other administration critics were among the first to hail decision to run for the Senate anew.

Second try

Colmenares ran in the 2016 senatorial race under the Partido Galing at Puso coalition led by Grace Poe. He finished in the 20th spot, eight places short of the Magic 12 with over 6.4 million votes.

Since his failed bid, Colmenares has been a vocal critic of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

He was among those who criticized Duterte’s Executive Order prohibiting “illegal contractualization” in May 2018, saying that it contributed nothing substantial to already existing labor laws that protected the rights of workers.

He called the EO “a deceptive ploy to appease the workers.”

In July 2018, he petitioned for a temporary restraining order on the implementation of Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law, which he and other Makabayan members have criticized for placing financial burden on consumers.

He was also part of the ‘Manlaban sa EJK‘ coalition of lawyers that decried the detention of three lawyers who allegedly inspected the scene of a drug raid in Time Bar in Makati without proper coordination with police authorities in August 2018.

He later represented the family members of the alleged victims of the extrajudicial killings tied to the drug war in the complaint they filed against Duterte before the International Criminal Court.

Colmenares was one of the lawyers who argued that Duterte’s controversial “EJKS are my only sin” statement in September 2018 constituted evidence that could be used in a legal proceeding.

A product of the University of the Philippines College of Law, Colmenares was previously the general counsel of Bayan Muna before being elected as its representative in 2009.

Among the laws he co-authored in his previous congressional stint were the Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act, Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act, Anti-Torture Act and the Increased Ceiling for Tax-Exempt Benefits.