With almost 500 delegates, allies and guests in attendance, Akbayan's latest Congress was a far cry from Akbayan's Founding Congress in 1998, where less than 300 people were present. And with more than 80,000 card-carrying members, Akbayan has grown exponentially, both quantity-, and quality-wise. This phenomenal growth in membership is also mirrored in the ever increasing credibility and influence of the party as evidenced by the increasing number of Akbayan members elected into public office – in barangays, municipalities, cities, and in the House of Representatives (HOR), where Akbayan currently has three representatives (the maximum number allowed by law per party list organization).
The number of Akbayan's political allies – kindred spirits of sorts – both local and international, have likewise grown by leaps and bounds. And while the local political allies of Akbayan belong mostly to the opposition block, its international allies are mostly ruling political parties in their respective countries.
Local political allies who attended Akbayan's 3rd Congress and expressed their support and solidarity for the party included: f ormer Vice-President Teofisto Guingona, former Secretary of the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) Dinky Soliman, current House of Representatives (HOR) Minority Floor Leader Congressman Francis Escudero, Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr., Marikina Congressman Del de Guzman, Congressman Rene Magtubo of the Partido ng Manggagawa (Workers' Party), Congressman Neric Acosta of the Liberal Party, and former President of the University of the Philippines and current Chair of Laban ng Masa (Struggle of the Masses) Dodong Nemenzo.
For the international delegation, the following countries, political parties, embassies, and organizations were represented: the Social Democratic Party of Sweden, Australian Labor Party, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (government in exile), Young Labour of the New Zealand Labor Party, the Social Democratic Party of Germany, the Norwegian Labor Party, the Perserikatan Rakyat Party of Indonesia, the Alternative Political Party Study Group of Thailand, the Olof Palme International Center,3rd Secretary of the European Union (Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines), and the Embassies of the Netherlands and Singapore. Most of the international guests delivered messages of solidarity highlighted by an inspiring speech of Lena Sommestad of the Social Democratic Party of Sweden and former minister of Environment.
The following organizations, although unable to attend the congress itself, nevertheless sent their solidarity messages: the Finnish Social Democratic Party, the Philippine Solidarity Group of the Netherlands, SYNASPISMOS of Greece, Rifondazione of Italy, the Party of the European Socialists (PES), Democratic Labor Party (DLP) of Korea, Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and Samahan ng mga Mangagawang Pilipino sa Belgium (Association of Filipino Migrant Workers in Belgium).
The main focus of Akbayan's Third Regular Party Congress was the presentation and approval of the latest version of the Party's Platform. The central theme of Akbayan's Platform is "Full-Employment: Decent Work and Sustainable Livelihood for All", which is also the main economic development program of the party. Other platform items approved by the Third Congress include Agrarian Reform, Peace, Anti-Corruption, Health, Education, and Housing. [NOTE: Documents are available upon request].
The Third Congress also approved the proposed General Program of Action of the Party for the next three years. Likewise, several amendments to the Party Constitution and By-laws and several resolutions proposed by the Akbayan Women Committee, the Akbayan Youth, the Peasant Sector, the National Council and the three Akbayan representatives in the HOR – all of which were intended to make Akbayan more responsive to current and future contexts – were approved by the body.
Finally, a new set of National Party Leaders were elected. They are as follows:
National Executive Committee:
Chairperson Emeritus: Rep. Loreta "Etta" Rosales
Chairperson: Joel Rocamora
President: Ronald Llamas
Secretary General: Arlene Santos
Vice-Chairperson: Rep. Mario "Mayong" Aguja
Vice-President: Danny Edralin
Treasurer: Melay Abao
Ombudsperson: Vim Santos
National Arbiter: Atty. Tony Salvador
Members at large : Prof. Randy David, Jude Esguerra, Atty. Barry Gutierrez, Ellene Sana
Ex officio members: the Chiefs of Staff of the Akbayan representatives to the HOR, the Akbayan Youth Chair
Luzon: Raffy Hipolito, Cenon Nolasco, Martuin Bangui, Renne Gumba, Francisca Morada, Ferdinand Buenviaje, Soledad Ureta
Visayas: Matet Lozada, Doris Obeña-Dinorog, Jojo Abrogar, Don Romero, Noli Valenzuela, Ephraim Bejar, Cathy Ruiz
Mindanao: Kagi Macabangon, Atty. Luz Ramos, Edgar Araujo, Randy Pontreras, Libby Santua, Romy Dahuyag, Angie Ludovice-Katoh
National Capital Region: Vic Manato, Donna Nano, Boy Arpapo, Fatima Cabanag, Tony Magandi
The representatives to the National Council of the following Akbayan Mass Movement Formations will be decided on during the respective caucuses of each: Labor, Peasant, Fisherfolk, Overseas Filipinos, Lesbians-Gays-Bisexuals-Transgenders, Public Sector, Women, and Youth. Likewise, the new Akbayan Party List Nominees will be determined on the first meeting of the new Akbayan National Council.
Hopefully, with the energy and passion that the new national leaders will bring in, Akbayan will be much renewed, both in strength and in fortitude, in its struggle to reform Philippine society.
The international delegation, meanwhile, had a parallel itinerary during the 2-day Congress and for the days following it. Aside from the fringe and impromptu meetings that the members of the delegation had with party leaders and members during the congress, they also had a separate forum on the current Human Rights Situation in the Philippines.
This Human Rights Forum was organized by the Akbayan International Committee specifically for the international delegates. Topics included in this forum were as follows: a General Overview of the HR situation in the Philippines, a discussion on the Political Killings, the Legislative Efforts and Human Rights Agenda of Akbayan to address this crucial issue.
The international delegates were also taken to visit several communities living beside the railroad tracks (riles) in Sta. Mesa, Manila, which were being forcibly relocated because of the Arroyo Government's Northrail Rehabilitation Program. The delegates were able to talk with the remaining families and with the organizations – Bantay Riles Network (Railroad Watch), in particular – working with them against illegal demolitions of shanties and for a just and humane housing program.
October 27, 2006