A Forum With Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros


Community Forum with Sen. Hontiveros

Friday, June 21, 2019, 6 – 8 PM
Mission Family Housing (Community Room)
1036 Mission St. (btwn 6th & 7th Sts.), San Francisco, CA 94103

Sponsored by Friends of Akbayan USA and partnering organizations and individuals.

President Duterte’s allies swept last May 13’s Philippine midterm elections for the Senate, shutting out opposition candidates. Among the new pro-Duterte senators are the former police enforcer of his deadly “war on drugs” against the poor, a daughter of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos and known plunderers of the public purse. Yet, the presidential palace is already touting the results as proof that the Filipino people are “expressing their will in the strongest and unequivocal manner” in support of the Duterte administration.

To the contrary, the results are a severe setback for Philippine democracy, making its future uncertain. Dominated by Duterte supporters, Congress will be a virtual rubber stamp for the president’s extrajudicial drug war killings, assault on press freedom, imprisonment of children as adult criminals, revival of the death penalty, manipulation of the justice system to selectively prosecute critics while giving impunity to his allies, and sell-out of the country’s patrimony to neo-imperial China. Duterte now arguably has a freehand to remake the post-Marcos democratic Constitution to his liking, legitimize local political dynasties through so-called federalism, and conceivably stay in power for years to come. Making this setback for democracy worse, the conduct of the elections itself has come under widespread criticism for fraud, vote buying by individual candidate and some party-list groups (which the president dismissed as an “expected” common practice), pre- marked ballots, police smearing of left wing party-list groups and voter intimidation.

In the immediate aftermath of this significant Philippine election, we invite you to come and listen to Philippine opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros update us on how the defense of Philippine democracy is faring. Senator Hontiveros is a prominent leader in the fight to defend democracy and human rights; oppose corruption and impunity in government; and advance social justice, reform and national progress through legislative work and accomplishments that support health care, empower women, and ensure social justice and equality. She will speak on the work that she and the political party she represents (Akbayan Citizen’s Action Partylist) are engaged in to defend, strengthen, and deepen democracy in the Philippines.

Akbayan is a democratic socialist party pursuing long-term reform, in collaboration with other like-minded groups, by successfully assuming office as incorruptible elected public officials, passing progressive legislation, advocating for comprehensive reforms, opposing injustice and promoting equality, and organizing a powerful mass following of support from among the poor, marginalized, and progressive sectors of society.

The bleak outcome of the elections is a sign of things to come. The path ahead will be challenging, but Akbayan will march on with other democratic organizations and citizens to fight an authoritarian agenda that will bring harm to more Filipino families and the nation as a whole. Akbayan Party will not back down in defending Philippine democracy and securing its future.



Senator Risa Hontiveros is a health and women’s rights advocate, a proud activist, and a champion of the marginalized sectors of Philippine society. The party she represents, the Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party, is a progressive, social democratic organization noted for embracing feminism, human rights, ecological sustainability, protection of the discriminated, and upliftment of the poor.

Sen. Hontiveros is just halfway into her first term, but she already passed nine laws that include the Universal Health Care Law, Expanded Maternity Leave Law, Healthy Nanay and Bulilit (Mother and Young Children) Law, Philippine HIV & AIDS Policy Law, Philippine Mental Health Law, and the amended Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities. The Mental Health Law is the country's first true national policy on mental health, while the Expanded Maternity Leave Law places the Philippines at par with international standards for both maternal and infant care.

Before her election to the Senate in 2016, Sen. Hontiveros was Akbayan’s representative during the 13th and 14th Congress, where she fought for the passage of the Philippine Reproductive Health Law. This landmark legislation provides Filipino women and families access to reproductive health and modern family planning services. Sen. Hontiveros also pushed for the Cheaper Medicines Law and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms Law. As a previous member of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Sen. Hontiveros pushed for expanded benefits and coverage, specifically for indigents and senior citizens.

Sen. Hontiveros is currently serving as the Chairperson of the 17th Congress Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, as well as the Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Health. She is backing the passage of the Anti-Discrimination bill on the basis of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression, which reached the Senate plenary after 20 years of lobbying.

Sen. Hontiveros’ Akbayan Party aims – through open political struggle, mass organizing, democratic militancy, and parliamentary work – to gain political power in order to institute social justice reforms for the majority of Filipinos, in which judicious taxation will fund a social system that provides universal health care, free primary and secondary public education and free university education to qualified students, job security and work benefits, land and farm support to the tillers, civil rights protections, environmental safety, and other social-justice oriented reforms. Akbayan is engaged in a project of building support from among the poor and reform-minded to be able to have political muscle for the victory of reforms.

In the immediate period, Akbayan actively participates in the growing broad opposition to the authoritarian and corrupt, tyrannical government of President Rodrigo Duterte. The party is helping to check Duterte’s efforts to undermine democratic gains achieved through the popular overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship and to completely restrict the democratic space available to the forces of social reform. Akbayan has to carry on this task while simultaneously fighting to set the parliamentary groundwork and standard for social reform.

Sen. Hontiveros has been fighting the good fight from an early age. She was still in high school, at St. Scholastica’s College, Manila, when she first organized a student group that campaigned against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. In college at the Ateneo de Manila University, she fought for peace and social justice as a student council leader, while graduating Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences. In 2001, Sen. Hontiveros received the prestigious Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines Award for Peace Advocacy for her work in the peace talks with the National Democratic Front. Four years later in 2005, she was one of 27 Filipino women who joined a group of 1,000 women worldwide nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Before she was a lawmaker, she was a community organizer and peace advocate. She was also a successful television journalist and news anchor. In her private life, she is a solo parent to four children and shares her love of music, culture, and the arts. 

For more information, contact: akbayanusa@gmail.com.