My son calls him, “the real action man.” A friend, a true-blue capitalist from Binondo, beams on hearing the name Neri Colmenares.
Neri Colmenares (#11) is the first and only one of two names on my Senate list.
The man lawyers call “Comrade Amparing” has given honor to the term “activist”.
He paid his dues as a teenager – arrested, tortured, jailed.
He has never acted like he’s owed for the sacrifice.
After years as a human rights lawyer and three terms as Bayan Muna representative in Congress, Neri continues to invest his soul and root his politics in the “karaniwang tao.”
The people’s lawyer became the people’s fighter in the House of Representatives, bastion of traditional politicians. He authored 11 laws, including these:
- Amending the Rent Control Act by prohibiting excessive rent for low income groups;
- the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) law, increasing the salaries of PAO lawyers;
- the law requiring disaster warnings through text; and
- the law creating Special Election Precincts for persons with disabilities and senior citizens.
These are laws that affect the lives of millions of Filipinos in ways that truly matter.
He authored several human rights laws including the law compensating human rights victims during Martial Law, the Anti-Torture Law and the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law.
His bill for a P2,000 pension hike for Social Security System members sailed through the House of Representatives. Senators gave him the highest display of respect by adopting his bill en toto and passing it swiftly.
He aims for the elimination of VAT on electricity, water and fuel; the prohibition of privatization of public hospitals and public health services; the increase in income tax exemptions; the Freedom of Information Law.
He’s also the main author of the bill, Magna Carta of Airline Passengers Rights, to protect passengers from abusive airline companies. You and I know how important this is.
It’s easy to see why Neri has worked so well in the House of Representatives.
Soft-spoken, polite to all, with a comic bent, he is ferocious when attacking abuse and persuasive in advocating his causes.
Colleagues across party lines stress his diligence, sharpness and his skill in building consensus where it can be forged.
His labors extend beyond the doors of Congress, all the way to the Supreme Court where he won a decision stopping Meralco and other electric companies from imposing excessive electricity rates in Metro Manila and other provinces.
He was also petitioner in the Supreme Court cases which declared DAP and PDAF pork barrel unconstitutional and in the P10 Billion overcharging and refund case against Globe and Smart telecoms. He has argued before the Supreme Court several times in various petitions defending human rights and the public against excessive rates for public service — including unjust MRT-LRT rate increases.
He argued before the US District Court in Hawaii for the compensation of human rights victims on the Marcos human rights case. He is the President of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) a national association of human rights lawyers and a Bureau Member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers based in New York and Belgium.
Oh, Neri is one of a handful of candidates who openly espouse divorce. He’s for the anti-discrimination bill that gives justice and dignity to LGBT’s in this country.
Lourd de Veyra says: He’s solid.
Neri’s more than solid. In a field full of dross, he’s golden.
Plus, how many senators can sing Buchiki and What a Wonderful World and give these equal meaning?