Risa Hontiveros

Hontiveros to opposition: ‘Confront ancient, pretentious modes of doing’

Mara Cepeda

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Hontiveros to opposition: ‘Confront ancient, pretentious modes of doing’

OPPOSITION LEADER. Senator Risa Hontiveros delivers her virtual message during the State of the People Address of the Freedom from Debt Coalition on July 20, 2022

Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros

Senator Risa Hontiveros hopes the opposition can continue door-to-door efforts, much like what they did during the presidential campaign of former VP Leni Robredo, so they can become 'part of a better solution'
Hontiveros to opposition: ‘Confront ancient, pretentious modes of doing’

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros challenged the opposition to continue mobilizing and to challenge what she described as “ancient and pretentious modes of thought and doing.”

This was the Philippine opposition leader’s call to action in her video message played during the State of the People Address of the Freedom from Debt Coalition on Wednesday, July 20, held just days before Marcos’ first State of the Nation Address (SONA) next Monday, July 25. 

Hontiveros to opposition: ‘Confront ancient, pretentious modes of doing’

Hontiveros warned the public that the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government has already started downplaying the Filipinos’ suffering due to the soaring prices of goods and the huge debt left behind by Marcos’ predecessor Rodrigo Duterte. 

The lone opposition senator said the Marcos administration would likely keep doing the same thing in the next six years, so the opposition must be more vigilant and must work harder.

“They will be resistant to information; they will implement top-down policies from their ‘golden age’; they will say that the situation is not really as bad as we portray it. They will warn and counsel patience. They will de-mobilize and try to put the situation under their control; they will take extraordinary steps to quell the organic agitation of people in distress,” said Hontiveros.

What does opposition need to do? “We must lead,” the senator said.

“We must draw our energy from our agitation. We need to confront authority and ancient and pretentious modes of thought and doing. We need to learn-by-doing, we need to be bottom-up, we need to be deeply empirical always testing, always prospecting for new approaches and always challenging each other,” said Hontiveros. 

“Mobilize, crowd-source and crowd-fund, unlearn what we know and adapt quickly, only then we can be part of a better solution,” she added. 

Marcos has inherited from Duterte the economic problems caused by the pandemic that pushed over 26.1 million Filipinos to poverty. The Philippine peso is at its weakest in 17 years, and the public is grappling with soaring prices of fuel and basic goods. 

In the face of such crisis, Hontiveros said there is no room for complacency among opposition forces. 

If they were able to go door-to-door and mobilize out of their own accord for the 2022 presidential bid of former opposition leader and vice president Leni Robredo, then Hontiveros believes they can still harness that energy into helping Filipinos today.

“First, we should mobilize once again, door-to-door, farm-to-farm and shore-to-shore, with survey instruments on hand and academic experts in tow if need be, so that we can acquire and communicate an updated understanding of the challenges on the ground,” said Hontiveros.

“Second, we should do as former VP Leni did despite the limited resources her small office had during the pandemic – develop and try out prototype solutions and refine them repeatedly, then solicit help from both the government and the private sector to achieve some meaningful scale,” she added. 

Hontiveros is now the de-facto leader of the opposition after she was the lone candidate in Robredo’s slate to clinch a Senate seat in the May polls.

Robredo herself already launched the Angat Buhay nongovernmental organization to serve as a platform for her campaign supporters to channel their post-elections grief and frustrations into concrete efforts to help others and fill in gaps in government response. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.