Despite tanking in surveys, Colmenares sees opening for opposition in 2019 polls

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Former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares says administration bets would have a harder time defending their stance on the administration's tax reform program and China's movements in the West Philippine Sea.

Metro Manila (February 26, CNN Philippines) — Former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares believes that the tide will soon turn in favor of opposition Senate bets like him, as issues would become sharper and administration bets would have a hard time defending their stance on the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law and China's movements in the West Philippine Sea.

"I don't care kung artista ka. I don't care kung gwapo ka. 'Pag nag-yes ka sa TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law), kapag nag-yes ka na ibigay sa Tsina ang ating lupa, I may not vote for you," Colmenares told CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday.

[Translation: I don't care if you're a celebrity. I don't care if you're handsome. If you say yes to the TRAIN law, if you say yes to giving away our lands to China, I may not vote for you.]

Colmenares said that with inflation poised to rise due to fuel excise taxes imposed by TRAIN and election spending, more people would get "disenchanted" and look for alternatives. Economic managers say inflation would further ease within the government's two to four percent inflation target.

Opposition bets have been tanking in the surveys, with only former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV of the Otso Diretso slate figuring among the possible Senate race winners.

However, Colmenares said it is possible that surveys do not reflect the actual sentiments of people on the ground. He added that even if these were accurate, more people would opt for the opposition once they start being more burdened by higher prices.

He is also unfazed by President Rodrigo Duterte's high ratings, saying these do not necessarily rub off on the candidates he endorses.

READ: Duterte admin-aligned Senate bets keep lead in latest Pulse Asia survey

But Colmenares admitted that sicne he is running independent of major political parties, with only the backing of the left-leaning Makabayan bloc, he lacks campaign resources. He also said President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades against the Left is "disadvantageous."

"But you know, Makabayan, despite all these attacks, we've always managed to win," Colmenares said. "That's because the Filipinos are beginning to see into the track record."

Colmenares said some bets of the Liberal Party-led Otso Diretso Senate slate have expressed support for him, but he has not been formally included in the lineup.

Colmenares is running as senator for the second time with the backing of  Makabayan. The party-list coalition previously fielded other bets to the Senate – all of whom failed to win even after forging alliances with larger parties.

But Colmenares remains optimistic.

"This time there's a big and huge opportunity na makapasok ang Left [for the Left to enter] because there is a need for someone who is independent in the Senate at hindi siya [and he is not] beholden sa whatever, whoever political party is in power or kung sino man ang presidente [whoever is the president,]" he said.