Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.


Teddy Casino, Bayan Muna. Forceful during interpellations but never offensive. Witty without being disrespectful and condescending. Uncompromising, critical, always ready to engage in intelligent discourse. His progressive ideas are brilliantly packaged in a language that can be easily understood by everybody. He re-introduced the fighting agenda of the Left to the new generation. As legislator he battled many evils of society while valiantly proposing the protection of small industries, local heritage, and the welfare of the oppressed. Aside from being the iconic image of the Left in the 21st century, he is an outstanding representative of a generation who fought in Edsa and continued to struggle for a better and new Philippines. (Read more about Teddy in my previous blog post)

Neri Colmenares, Bayan Muna. Human rights lawyer and Palarong Pambansa chess champion. People’s lawyer par excellence. Authoritative and credible expert on Writ of Amparo, partylist law, and Negros cuisine. Meticulous and cleverly ruthless during budget deliberations and legislative interpellations. There was a time when a befuddled Budget Secretary Abad complained against what he called “Colmenares’ Mathematics.” One of the very few lawmakers who can deliver a privilege speech without reading from a prepared text. He was part of the prosecution team during the historic Corona impeachment trial in 2012. Unknown to many people, he was one of the youngest political prisoners and torture victims during Martial Law. Pamangkin niya si Angel Locsin.

Tonchi Tinio, ACT Teachers. Education reformer, scholar activist, social media savvy and unofficial IT connoisseur of the House. One of the most visible, active, and articulate legislators in the House plenary. Aggressive and successful in promoting teachers’ welfare but also very vocal and knowledgeable on other issues like reproductive health, US imperialism, and cybercrime. Direct in delivering his critique, imaginative in conceptualizing his alternatives, and radical seems an understatement to describe the depth of his political standpoint. The only male member in the Committee on Women and Gender Equality. He was part of the bicameral committee which endorsed the RH bill. His House Bill 2142 which seeks to raise the salary grade of public school teachers from salary grade 11 to 15 is co-authored by more than 180 representatives.

Paeng Mariano, Anakpawis. The poorest representative of the 15th Congress but the ‘richest’ in terms of militancy and consistency in advocating a more radical and egalitarian politics. The best resource person who can explain the ‘congenital defects’ of the land reform program or CARP and the deceptive CARPER law. A living legend of the peasant sector, he can narrate and summarize the heroic struggles and court battles of hacienda farmers. He has passionately asserted the necessity of implementing a genuine agrarian reform to solve poverty in the countryside. He is a true intellectual of the masses who can convincingly connect the various sectoral and grassroots demands to the national democratic movement.

Luz Ilagan, Gabriela. The voice of Mindanao and women in Congress. Steadfast in her commitment to improve the lives of poor women, especially the people of Mindanao. She often lectures policymakers, bureaucrats, and fellow representatives about the feminization of poverty and migration. She exposed the destructive impact of mining and other polluting activities in upland lumad communities. She led fact-finding missions and on-site human rights hearings in numerous militarized communities in Mindanao. A champion of women legislation like divorce, anti-discrimination, anti-trafficking, and RH. A veteran public servant, she served as councilor of Davao City for two terms. She taught English in Ateneo for many years, and interestingly several of her students became her colleagues in Congress.

Satur Ocampo, Bayan Muna. Journalist, peace negotiator, political detainee for 12 years, and revolutionary activist since the 1960s. He is already a familiar face of Philippine politics when he entered Congress in 2001. For being a radical truth-seeker and for truly working as the people’s representative, he faced rebellion charges during the Arroyo years. He was already tirelessly exposing Arroyo’s corruption, abuse of power, human rights atrocities, and other criminal acts when Pnoy and Liberal partymates were still cozy with the ruling coalition. His exemplary performance as legislator and statesman is an inspiration and lesson for those who seek to serve the people in the government. Three years after the end of his term, he is still seen as the quintessential leftist legislator.

Liza Maza, Gabriela. Peminista na, radikal pa. She epitomized the modern Gabriela, the Filipina as activist. Finally, a woman legislator who understands feminist causes, the history of the women’s movement, and the significance of integrating women’s issues in the national liberation struggle. She, along with other visionaries and progressives, persevered in crafting laws to stop all forms of violence against women and children. She was very critical in exposing the prejudices, abuses, and other brutalities suffered by women, especially the marginalized women. She was always speaking in behalf of battered housewives, trafficked women, prostituted children, and maltreated workers. More importantly, she never failed to emphasize the importance of women standing up, speaking out, and fighting for their rights and human dignity.

Joel Maglunsod, Anakpawis. Firebrand and agitator (in the most positive sense) inside and outside congress. Diligent representative of the working classes in the 14th Congress. Aside from achieving a perfect attendance in the session, he was always the first to enter and the last to leave the plenary hall. He was active in delivering privilege speeches almost every week raising awareness about the plight of workers, the relevance of a legislated wage increase, the impact of rising prices on low-income families, and the bankruptcy of the government’s economic policies. He once exposed the military’s Order of Battle which allegedly included his name. A veteran activist from Mindanao, he can thoroughly and most emphatically discuss the political situation in the island: the exploitation of the Mindanaon by local and foreign plunderers on one hand, and the thriving people’s movement on the other.

Emmi de Jesus, Gabriela. Martial law fighter, pioneer in the women’s movement, nanay namin sa kongreso. Calm and polite when discussing policy issues; always prepared with her sharp analysis of the burning issues of the day. She gave a comprehensive critique of the misnamed and overhyped conditional cash transfer program of the government. Persuasive in her arguments against the privatization of hospitals and other health services. Consistent in her demand for better and pro-poor housing program. Very credible and compelling in her criticism of the unacknowledged population control agenda in the RH bill. She can defend its pro-women provisions but she can also identify some dangerous aspects in the framework of the bill.

*The other Makabayan reps are Joel Virador and Siegfred Deduro of Bayan Muna. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance and honor of working with them in the 12th and 13th Congress.

3 Responses to “Makabayan Legislators”

  1. You also forgot about yourself! Haha. Congrats nga pala Cong Mong for a very successful stint as Kabataan Rep. in Congress.


  2. How I wish Teddy will be President and the people here will be his cabinet members. With the way things are going for us Filipinos (our declining over-all well-being and environment) we definitely need some serious intervention. And these people know how to do just that.


  3. […] efficient by talking to the point persons of party blocs and informal groupings. For example, the Makabayan’s leading figure is Rep Colmenares. Other political parties also have their respective spokespersons […]

    Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » Congress Lobbying

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