AKBAYAN is a national citizen’s party running in the party-list elections. It advocates democratic, accountable and participative governance. It is made up of various sectors who traditionally have had little voice in government: youth, women, fisherfolks, farmers, elderly, teachers, gays and lesbians, Muslims and workers.
What does AKBAYAN do besides go to rallies?
AKBAYAN does its share of protest actions in order to advance important issues that affect the lives of most Filipinos (such as greater access to social services such as health care and education, and reasonable cost of power and water) and to sway public opinion to issues of national and global importance (such as the war in Mindanao and the Philippine participation in Iraq, corruption, globalization, to name a few). We believe that active citizens play an indispensable part in our democracy by holding government in check by exposing ills and pressing for alternatives. The most decisive shifts in our recent history were in fact huge rallies: EDSA I and EDSA 2.
More than rallies, however, AKBAYAN is engaged in serious, long-term, and nitty-gritty work. Its two incumbent representatives, Rep. Etta Rosales and Rep. Mayong Aguja, have championed legislation to advance human rights and to reform government institutions. They have initiated investigations to expose corruption. In fact, in 2000, Rep. Etta Rosales exposed bribery in Congress in connection with the privatization of NAPOCOR. She is one of the very few politicians in this country who has returned a bribe and had the courage to report it to the public.
AKBAYAN’s work outside Congress has to do with helping ordinary citizens assert their rights and access basic needs, participate in nation-building and fight corruption and abuse. AKBAYAN works with hundreds of local governments all over the country in order to improve service-delivery and administration. We support the initiatives of people’s organizations towards economic and social empowerment. We work with institutions that study policies and reforms that would work better given the social, economic and political conditions of our country. AKBAYAN even has international work: assisting Filipino migrants so that their needs abroad are better met by government.
Is AKBAYAN an activist organization?
Yes and proud of it! For us, activism means engaging in peaceful, collective action in order to change things for the better. It means defending the interests of the poor and oppressed in our society and challenging inequitable, unjust policies and systems that perpetuate poverty, injustice and corruption.
Is AKBAYAN part of the Communist Party or the NPA?
Definitely, not. AKBAYAN believes in peaceful, patient and determined efforts to reform Philippine government and society. AKBAYAN does have members who joined the underground movement while fighting the Marcos dictatorship. Today, however, AKBAYAN is united by a commitment to peaceful reform. While we see and understand the desperation that drives some of our people to take up arms against the government, AKBAYAN does not believe that violence will solve the country’s problems. We vehemently condemn torture, assassination and other violent acts that undermine human rights and freedoms. We categorically denounce the use of arms to influence elections and to extort money from political candidates, as practiced by any entities, be it the NPA, private armies or factions of the military.
How big is AKBAYAN and where does it get its funds?
AKBAYAN has an overall membership of 87,000 all over the Philippines and abroad. These members are organized within 2,000 chapters which are the basic building blocks of the party at the neighborhood or barangay levels. These chapters form the 309 sections and the over 100 city-level divisions of AKBAYAN.
AKBAYAN is in over 54 provinces, 237 municipalities and cities and 1,632 barangays nationwide. Members who are not organized according to area, are organized according to the sectors they belong to: youth, women, workers farmers and lesbians and gays, for example. AKBAYAN also has international chapters made up of overseas Filipinos in countries like Italy, UAE, Greece and Germany. AKBAYAN obtains its funds from membership contributions.
What makes AKBAYAN different from other partylist groups?
AKBAYAN is serious about reform. It does not use its presence in Congress merely to harass incumbent governments, nor does it exist in Congress merely for pork barrel appropriations. AKBAYAN has a concrete legislative and policy agenda for political and economic reform, that includes among others: re-distributive and asset reform, poverty alleviation, human rights protection, basic service delivery and social security, fiscal and monetary reforms, and others.
AKBAYAN’s work does not end in rallies and elections. For the last 6 years, AKBAYAN has worked hard to implement its program of action on the ground: in Congress, in communities, among sectors, and in local governments.
AKBAYAN is for peace. It has no links with armed groups from whatever ideological orientation. It participates in efforts to address the root causes of conflict via dialogue and social redress.
AKBAYAN is also serious in establishing a political party where democratic processes are seriously practiced. Decisions emanate from the membership of the party and are not imposed from the top. It strongly encourages the political participation of marginalized sectors, and has in fact established a quota of 30% for women’s participation in the leadership positions in the party to ensure gender parity. The basic sectors are also represented in the party’s political council.
Can a small party like AKBAYAN make a difference?
It already has. During the last 6 years, AKBAYAN has established a reputation in Congress with its honest and competent legislators. Rep. Etta Rosales has won accolades for her outstanding performance as a legislator. Rep. Mayong Aguja has gained ground as an advocate of Mindanao concerns.
AKBAYAN’s proposed laws include: the Absentee Voting Law—a historic law that allowed overseas Filipinos to exercise their right to vote; The National Land and Water Use Act, which provides for the rationalization of land usage in the country and the protection of farmers’ land rights; The Anti-Dsicrimination Bill, which penalizes discriminatory policies and practices against Filipino lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender; The Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Bill, the Magna Cartas for teachers, students and workers and other rights legislation; The Claimants’ Bill, which seeks to compensate human rights abuses by the state, particularly by the Marcos regime. More recently, AKBAYAN sponsored the Anti-Permit to Campaign Bill, a law criminalizing NPA extortion from political candidates.
The changes that AKBAYAN can bring to institutions like Congress will not be made overnight and will not be stunningly radical, but they will be meaningful and substantial.
HELP US MAKE THOSE CHANGES.
Know more about Akbayan and the Party-list System at http://www.akbayan.org