We, Lara and BB, will be writing joint entries about different stuff. From political issues to novelty products, we’ll be covering just about everything. We won’t be necessarily having the same view and opinions, so be sure to check out what each one of us has to say.
For today, we’re talking about Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros-Baraquel of AKBAYAN Partylist. Before venturing into politics, Risa was a theatre actress who had performed alongside Monique Wilson, Raymond and Menchu Lauchengco, and Lea Salonga.
14-year-old Risa Hontiveros (third from left) in the Repertory Philippines' 1980 production of "The Sound of Music." Can you see Monique Wilson and Lea Salonga? ;) (Photo Courtesy of Gibbs Cadiz)
She later worked as a broadcaster on “Street Pulse” (PTV Channel 4), “Firing Line” (GMA-7) and “Magandang Umaga Po” (ABS-CBN). She was also part of the Government Panel for Peace Talks with the National Democratic Front, serving as the chair of Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms from 1998 to June 1999.
This May 2010 elections, she is running under the Liberal Party. In one TV campaign ad, she is endorsed by talk show host Kris Aquino-Yap.
If there’s anything that makes Risa Hontiveros’ tagline “Magandang Laban” appropriate, it’s the fact that she IS purdy. Being a former theater actress and media personality, Ms. Risa sure has looks to incite girl-crush and MILF-y reveries (as BB used to put it….. Hrhrrr. More on BB’s views later, so you could understand why I said “used to.”) Her background also helps in making her speech sound very eloquent. So yeah, if the Senatorial Race were a Beauty Pageant, she’d probably come home as the Grand Champ or something.
But stunning face and modulated voice aside, what does Ms. Risa Hontiveros have to offer as a senatorial candidate? If you’d look at her track record, she’d definitely beat LP Presidential Candidate Noynoy Aquino himself with the multitude of House Bills and House Resolutions she authored, co-authored and sponsored. Awesomecakes? Well, not really.
What exactly is a "Magandang Laban"?
I dunno why there are people who actually think that Ms. Risa’s CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with – *GASP* – Reforms – LOLs at the redundancy) Bill is worthy to be considered as a “flagship” law. At face value, it seems good because it’s supposed to help all our poor farmers. But come on, the bill’s been around since August 2009, and still no meaningful changes in the agricultural sector. I mean, seriously, how many peasants were able to acquire land, get support services and other funding requirements because of CARPER?
I’ve read both the CARP and the CARPER bills last year when I was helping BB’s sister Kaye finish a CommDev paper, and as far as I can remember, Kaye and I both noticed that the two laws are almost the same: both allow big hacienderos to retain ownership and possession of their vast landholdings through land use conversion, crop conversion, and stock distribution option. For instance, if BB (hrhrrrhrr, sorry baby) were a haciendero asked by his peasants to distribute some of his landholdings to them, he could escape that by converting his land to, say, a supermall with fifteen floors.
"How can she stand her ground if she doesn't have any?"
(Photo Courtesy of Coffee Writings)
In short, Ms. Risa’s “flagship” CARPER Bill is just an extension of the old one. Yes, the whole redundancy in its name makes me go LOLOLOL!, but there’s nothing so funny about the fact that there are no clear-cut proposals for reforms even through the word “reform” was used twice in its title. I was about to amazed when I read this provision on Rural Women and Gender Responsive Support Services. Much to Kaye and I’s dismay, we didn’t see operational description on how CARPER will grant protection of rural women rights. Magandang laban nga – NOT.
No, I’m not for Ms. Risa. CARPER simply spells “FAIL” all over it, and so does her pahinhin booteh-shakin’ in her “Magandang Laban” TV campaign ad with Mrs. Yap. Platforms and stand on important issues, purdy please?
Let me begin this with a narrative. As a photographer for a local news media outlet, I’m used to being sent to various assignments around the country. There were just lots of events to capture on film during that time, among them various personalities giving hints about (if not deliberately announcing) their intention to run for public office. It was a time that was exciting as well as stressful.
My occupation allowed me to make friends with several people who also worked in the same field. These friends include freelance journalist Art Betia and Goldstar Daily’s Jhoy Dojay. UNTV camera man Macmac Arriola was a familiar face for me. I was also able to share tables with Jun Gatchalian in many occasions.
"Remember, remember, the 23rd of November."
(Photo Courtesy of Pusong Cheesecake)
One fateful night, while out for some assignment in Batangas, Lara called me up on my celphone to tell me something very important: she just heard from the news that a mass grave was discovered at the town of Ampatuan in the Maguindanao province. I almost cried on the spot when she softly said, “Di ba dun ang punta ni Art at may icocover daw siya sa mga Mangudadatu?” We would later find out that Art wasn’t the only journalist there – Ms. Dojay, Macmac Arriola and Jun were also present, too. And no, not as witnesses to the ghastly crime: they were victims who never survived to recount the ordeal they underwent in the hands of soulless mercenaries. These dear people were brutally killed.
Now, why am I saying this? What’s the connection of the Maguindanao massacre with Risa Hontiveros? As far as I know, AKBAYAN, the partylist she represents, condemned the Maguindanao massacre. But just recently, Risa Hontiveros issued a statement that made me dreadfully incensed.
Risa Hontiveros being arrested by a fellow of her late husband Francisco Baraquel, Jr., a former police
(Photo Courtesy of PhilBoxing Forum)
In her ongoing war of words with MAKABAYAN and NP guest candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza, Risa Hontiveros eventually came out with a press release where she said:
“It is actually their (MAKABAYAN bloc) refusal to condemn the atrocities and abuses of the CPP-NPA that indirectly helps human rights violators like Palparan to commit further abuses.” (Thursday, April 22, 2010, 2:29 PM)
While I want to believe that Risa Hontiveros is a staunch advocate of peace and human rights, that statement of hers made me doubt everything that she’s supposedly fighting for.
Let’s look into statistics and have them speak for themselves: an outstanding number of people from the network of Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza and MAKABAYAN are actually victims of state-perpetrated abduction, torture and killings.
- Out of the 1,190 victims of Extra-Judicial Killings and 205 victims of Enforced Disappearances documented from January 2001 to March 2010 (that is, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s time as president), 470 Extra-Judicial Killing casualties and 68 Enforced Disappearance sufferers belong to progressive sectoral and multi-sectoral organizations.
- Out of the 470 Extra-Judicial Killings of organized individuals, 2 are from Gabriela and 142 are from Bayan Muna.
- 12 of the 68 victims of Enforced Disappearances are from Bayan Muna.
- NONE of the 1,190 victims of Extra-Judicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances from Jan. ’01-Mar. ’10 belongs to AKBAYAN.
Pictures of victims of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines at the Bathurst/Wilson Park on Sept. 20. (Photo Courtesy of The Philippine Reporter)
I really feel for the relatives and friends of these people. Like us media workers, members of sectoral and multi-sectoral organizations are only doing what they believe is the best for the people. It is because of my empathy for their families and friends that I dislike Risa. I am utterly enraged at Risa Hontiveros for giving such a reckless statement which blames the victims of Extra-Judicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances themselves. She holds leftists guilty for being leftists. Her statement pretty much gives us an idea why the Government Panel for Peace Talks with the NDF during her time achieved nothing successful.
I also abhor the fact that for a former media practitioner, she’s now using that nasty tactic of using dubious (if not thoroughly unsubstantiated) bases for attacking other political parties, just like what she did with when she released the statement entitled, Hontiveros: Reds imposing ‘orange’ PTCs (Permits to Campaign). In the statement, it is said that:
“LP senatorial bet and Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros revealed today that the NPA is imposing ‘orange’ permits to campaign… a local candidate in Bicol has shown a high-ranking official of Akbayan a copy of the PTC.” (April 27, 2010)
So where exactly is this PTC that Risa is talking about? If she’s really sincere about attacking the purported imposition of PTCs by Reds, then why merely call for the Nacionalista Party’s denunciation of the act instead of suggesting and spearheading the pursuit for a legal measure to address it?
If Risa Hontiveros is really honest about her stand against electoral harassment, then what has she said or done in response to the death threats received by partylist nominees like Kabataan’s Atty. Kathrina Castillo and Mark Louie Aquino?
Death threat received by Kabataan Partylist Nominee Atty. Castillo
(Photo Courtesy of K. M. G. Lagabala)
What has Hontiveros done to thwart off the poison campaign against groups like ACT TEACHERS, KATRIBU and AKAP BATA? Is Hontiveros silent about this because these organizations are part of the MAKABAYAN bloc, and she thinks that it’s the victims’ fault that they are harassed like so? Is she keeping mum because this black propaganda will help her group, AKBAYAN, get better chances of winning a seat in the Congress?
Photo Courtesy of Facebook
Initially, I was rooting for Risa Hontiveros because she was a former media practitioner. I was thinking, “Hey, maybe she’d understand the plight of those who work in the field where she used to be part of.” Heck, she’s even a Kapisanan ang Mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) Golden Dove Awardee for Best Female Newscaster back in 1994. But seeing the way she struts not so differently from all these traditional politicians when she’s supposedly a "leftist" or an “activist,” I feel somewhat betrayed not only as someone who has the same career background but also as a citizen. I just pray that she doesn’t win, because we’ve already got more than enough hypocrites in the public service sector.