“President Duterte courted CPP-NPA for its support when he was campaigning for the presidential post in 2016 and even appointed some leftist personalities when he assumed office. He echoed the leftist stance on national issues, promising the end to ENDO or contractualization and the distribution of Coco Levy Funds to coconut farmers. Of course, he is yet to fulfill these promises when he is already three years into his presidency.”

This was the reaction of former Deputy Speaker and senatorial candidate Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada as he and his father, former Senator Wigberto “Bobby” Tañada were at the receiving end of one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s vitriolic attacks. Speaking in front of a crowd in Marikina Hotel and Convention Center, the President called out the Tañadas for having done nothing but defend communists.

“I have never defended communists in court as alleged by President Duterte. I am a human rights lawyer. My grandfather and father defended Ninoy Aquino during Martial Law.” Tañada said.

Tañada, however, emphasized that right to counsel is a basic personal right. “There is nothing wrong defending communists in Court. The Bill of Rights article of the Constitution states that no one can be deprived of life or liberty without having been provided with a good defense in a fair trial. They, just like everyone else, are entitled to their day in court aided by competent counsel.”

During Tañada’s three terms as Quezon Province Fourth District’s Representative in Congress, he authored the Repeal of the Death Penalty Law, Cheaper Medicines Law, Anti-Torture Act, Condonation of SSS Penalties on Deliquent Contributions, People’s Survival Fund, Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act, Human Rights Recognition and Reparation Act, and the Universal Healthcare Law. He voted against the raising of the VAT rate from 10 to 12% and has always called for a tax structure that shifts the burden to the rich rather than the poor. In his nine years in Congress, Tañada said he relentlessly worked for the welfare of Filipino workers and farmers, and all consistently within the context of human rights.

“There is nothing wrong with dreaming about better economic, employment, and living conditions for our farmers and workers. There is nothing wrong about believing in yourself that you can do something about it. That I share this aspiration with the CPP-NPA does not mean I am a member of the Party. Some universal ideals are worth fighting for. And I will fight for them as how my grandfather and my father fought for them–with all their heart, their mind, their life,” shared Tañada.