The Leader I Want: Risa Hontiveros’ to-fix list for 2016

Gerard Lim
The Leader I Want: Risa Hontiveros’ to-fix list for 2016
Rappler #PHVote's 'The Leader I Want' series looks at Risa Hontiveros' stand on key issues the next batch of senators will have to address

MANILA, Philippines – After two consecutive failed bids, she is gunning for another chance at a Senate seat.

Is it time for former Akbayan representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel to make her senatorial debut?

According to a Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated survey conducted among 1,800 registered voters, nearly 8 in 10 or 79% of Filipinos give high importance to a candidate’s support for family planning. (READ: Most Filipinos want candidates to prioritize family planning – survey

Seen as one of the figures behind the controversial Reproductive Health Law, which she co-authored, Hontiveros might finally get that elusive Senate seat.

The former journalist believes she has a better chance of winning this year. She based this optimism on her 5th to 9th ranking in recent surveys, or within the winning circle of 12 probable winners.

As part of Rappler #PHvote’s “The Leader I Want” series, we look at Hontiveros’ stand on key issues that the next batch of senators will have to address.

Tell us in the comments section below or tweet using #TheLeaderIWant why or why not Risa Hontiveros should be part of the Senate.


Her main advocacy is public health. As a champion of reproductive health, she gained the endorsement of the Purple Ribbon for RH movement. When she filed her certificate of candidacy, she said she will push for a universal health care program. (Read: Health care and the 2016 elections

Nasa puso, front and center, ng advocacy ko for universal health care lahat ng mga batas pangkalusugan: reproductive health, lahat ng batas sa maternal and child care para sa karamihan ng mamamayan, lalo na ‘yung mga mahihirap pati na ‘yung sa kanayunan,” she told Rappler.

(All health measures are at the heart – front and center – of my advocacy for universal health care: reproductive health, and maternal and child care for more Filipinos, especially the poor and those in rural areas.)

President Benigno Aquino III swore in Hontiveros as a director of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in June 2015. She was appointed to the position in November 2014. Her experience in the state corporation, she said, made her realize the importance of universal health care – and the need for its champion in the legislature.

Hontiveros brings the following proposals to the table:

  • ‘Super’ barangay health centers equipped with in-patient facilities and enough manpower, funded by sin tax revenues
  • More PhilHealth benefits for senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and indigents, and a PhilHealth benefit package for women’s health care
  • Increase PhilHealth case rate packages, which automatically determines how much is deducted from a patient’s bill for the treatment of specific conditions
  • Stricter implementation of Republic Act 8344 or the Anti-Hospital Deposit Act which prohibits hospitals from turning away patients in emergency or serious cases just because they cannot pay a deposit
  • Push for regular positions with compensation not lower than P6,000 for barangay health workers with health, insurance, and retirement benefits, particularly for those who have worked for more than 10 years. This will  be funded by sin tax revenues.

Hontiveros also said she wants to use the coco levy funds for a social protection package for ageing coconut farmers that focuses on their health needs.

A guest candidate of the administration’s “Daang Matuwid” coalition, she has also pledged her support for farmers, saying she would sustain and build on the administration’s gains. (READ: Fisherfolk leaders bare wish list to presidential bets)


When she filed her certificate of candidacy, Hontiveros promised to continue the fight against corruption. 

Bagama’t, oo nga, marami na tayong nagawang malalaking hakbang para dito sa mga nakaraang taon, kailangang ipagpatuloy pa rin ang prosesong iyan ng paglilinis, kahit pa sa Senado,” she said.

(While, it’s true, we have done a lot of important steps these past years, we have to continue that cleansing process, even in the Senate.)

Hontiveros was among those who had pushed for the abolition of the pork barrel funds. She had said that even administration allies should not be spared, if found to be involved in the pork barrel scam, the biggest corruption scandal in Philippine history.

The Commission on Audit reported in 2013 that it found possible irregularities in the use of Hontiveros’ Priority Development Assistance Fund for projects in the towns of Hernani in Eastern Samar and Doña Remedios Trinidad in Bulacan in 2011. Hontiveros had said that the projects were implemented and reiterated her support for an investigation.

Social inequity

Hontiveros is a known supporter of the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders) community. She said she would push for an Anti-Discrimination Bill that will not only cover members of the LGBT community but also persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples.


In her official Facebook account, Hontiveros said that overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who continue their PhilHealth contributions should be given incentives.

On the issue of tanim-bala, a bullet-planting scam wherein airport security personnel  allegedly extort money from OFWs, Hontiveros calls for improved security in all points of entry in Philippine airports, according to a Sunstar reporta.

Peace process in Mindanao

Hontiveros supports the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). She joined a  peace march last year for the passage of the proposed measure. 

“The integrity of the BBL must be preserved. This means it should stay true to the spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. We are hopeful that our legislators will heed our call and preserve the integrity of the BBL,” she said.

Other plans

Hontiveros has also called for a more nuanced discussion on the topic of divorce, to include important considerations such as child support. (READ: Women candidates: Make psych tests for annulment cheaper

“There are several starting points. Immediately, child support is one. How many separated, abandoned women whose husbands are living [and] who just disappeared into thin air and [the women] receive nothing in child support? Two, if we have a proper contracting of marriage, should there not also be a proper dissolution of marriage?” she said. – 

Risa Hontiveros is among the senatorial candidates who will participate in Rappler’s #TheLeaderIWant Senatorial Debates at the University of the Philippines School of Economics Auditorium in Quezon City  on Friday, April 15, from 3 pm to 5:30 pm.

Editor’s Note: We have corrected this report to state that Risa Hontiveros was appointed to PhilHealth in November 2014, not in June 2015, when she was sworn in.

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