Makabayan bloc fields Zarate in speakership race

MANILA, Philippines – A new candidate has joined the heated race for the next House Speaker: Bayan Muna Representative-elect Carlos Zarate of the progressive Makabayan bloc. 

The 6-member coalition of progressive lawmakers in the upcoming 18th Congress released a statement endorsing Zarate for Speaker on Wednesday, June 26. 

“Ang pagtakbo ni Representative Zarate, na may mahaba at mabuting track record sa pagsisilbi, ay ating pagtaguyod ng interes at kagalingan ng mamamayang ating pinagsisilbihan. Ito ang ating pagtindig laban sa patronage politics, korapsyon, at atake sa mamamayan,” said the Makabayan bloc. 

(The candidacy of Representative Zarate, who has a long and excellent track record in public service, is part of our bid to uphold the interest and welfare of the people whom we serve. We are taking a stand against patronage politics, corruption, and attacks against citizens.)

“Panahon na para sa isang Speaker na tunay na makabayan (It’s time we have a Speaker who is truly for the nation),” they added.

A human rights lawyer, Zarate has long been a vocal opposition figure in the House. He is set to serve his third term as Bayan Muna representative in the 18th Congress.

Zarate’s bid for the speakership is backed by the following:

The Makabayan lawmakers said they expect the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to spend the last 3 years of his term strongly pushing for his “anti-citizen” policies, like federalism, tax increases, term extensions for public officials, the revival of the death penalty, and lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility, among others. (WATCH: Newsbreak Chats: The highs and lows of the Duterte presidency)

“Kailangan natin ng Speaker na titindig sa harap ng atake sa ating soberenya at panghihimasok ng US at Tsina, lalaban sa korapsyon,  magsusulong ng kagalingan at demokratikong karapatan ng mamamayan,” said the Makabayan lawmakers. 

(We need a Speaker who will stand up against attacks to our sovereignty and invasion by the United States and China, someone who will fight corruption and push for excellence and the democratic rights of the people.) 

It will be an uphill battle to the speakership for Zarate, however. He will face 3 contenders who are all allies of Duterte, whose policies Makabayan has been criticizing.

The other top speakership bets are Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, Leyte 1st District Representative-elect Martin Romualdez, and Taguig City-Pateros Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano. –

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.