Makabayan bloc endorses 9 senatorial bets in May polls

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 3) — The left-leaning Makabayan coalition is endorsing nine senatorial candidates in the upcoming May elections.

The coalition on Sunday announced it is backing the senatorial bids of Otso Diretso's Bam Aquino, Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, Florin Hilbay and Erin Tañada.

Reelectionists Grace Poe and Nancy Binay, as well as former lawmakers Serge Osmeña and Neri Colmenares also secured the group's endorsement.

In a statement, the coalition said it will work with the candidates in various issues, including the suspension or repeal of the excise tax provision of the  Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, charter change and other Constitutional amendments, promotion of human rights and due process among Filipinos, fight for the country's sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, and resumption of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Makabayan stressed the need for an "independent Senate," as "impunity reigns and the system of checks and balances among the executive, judiciary and legislative branches of government is in peril."

"The upcoming elections gives us the opportunity to elect to the Senate men and women of proven competence and integrity who can assert the Senate's independence and push for laws that favor our people. Candidates who have a proven track record of public service and a fighting chance to win," the coalition said.

Makabayan is a coalition of leftist lawmakers from political groups, including Bayan Muna, GABRIELA, ACT Teachers, Anakpawis and Kabataan. The coalition is also backed by activist groups representing different sectors.

"We hope that through this endorsement, Makabayan can contribute to the formation of a coalition of independent and opposition candidates that can provide our people the best hope for an independent and pro-people Senate," it said.