Senator Risa Hontiveros said that 2022 will end with major victories in the Senate for champions of good governance, along with key advances in legislation to help women, children and workers struggling to recover from both the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic crisis.
Hontiveros, Chair of Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, said that while 2022 was a challenging year, it presented timely opportunities to advance the welfare of workers, women, and children.
“Ngayong taon, mabibigat ang ating pinagdaanan, mula sa patuloy na tumataas na bilihin, kakulangan pa rin sa hanapbuhay, pagbagsak ng ekonomiya at patuloy na epekto ng coronavirus pandemic,” the veteran legislator said.
“Pero hindi nito napigil ang ating pagtatrabaho sa Senado upang masiguradong mabibigyang prayoridad ang mga kinakaharap na problema ng mga manggagawa, kababaihan, kabataan at sa pagkakaroon ng malinis at tapat na gobyerno,” the seasoned lawmaker added.
After an impossibly difficult election campaign in May, the lady senator secured a second term. She is undeterred by the fact that she and Senator Koko Pimentel III were the only members of the minority bloc.
During the 19th Congress, Hontiveros has made a number of remarkable interventions in Senate committee hearings including demanding accountability from government personnel implicated in the sugar importation fiasco.
“Kung hindi natin tutukan ang mga isyung ito, magiging precedent ito, pwedeng maulit, hindi man sa kaparehong isyu. It also allowed us to see whether or not those in power were indeed qualified for their positions,” she said.
Hontiveros also disclosed in a Senate hearing, a new modus for facilitating outbound trafficking of Filipinos into Myanmar, which is carried out by individuals with purported ties to airport terminal officials.
Likewise, the revelation facilitated the repatriation of 12 Overseas Filipino Workers who had been deceived into accepting a legal job, but were instead forced to become “cryptocurrency scammers” and were exposed to forms of archaic abuse.
“Layon natin na punan ang pagkukulang sa batas at protektahan ang iba pang mga manggagawa na ang nais lang ay umangat ang antas ng kanilang buhay.”
“Patuloy tayong nagtatrabaho para suriin kung bakit patuloy na nangyayari ang paulit-ulit na pambibiktima sa ating mga kababayan na papangakuan ng trabaho, pero malalantad lang sa pang-aabuso. Layon natin na punan ang pagkukulang sa batas at protektahan ang iba pang mga manggagawa na ang nais lang ay umangat ang antas ng kanilang buhay,” she said.
Hontiveros is ecstatic that the Senate has given top priority to legislation that would significantly improve the lives of women and children, including the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (RA No. 11862) in relation to the incidents of illegal trafficking of Filipinos in Myanmar.
“Ngayong taon din nating naipasa ang Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act na inaasahan nating tutulong sa atin na maiwasan na ang ganitong insidente ng human trafficking at makamit ang hustisya para sa mga biktima,” she said.
Hontiveros continue to pass laws that ultimately benefit Filipino women and children. In the 18th Congress, she championed the passage of raising the age of sexual consent to 16 (RA No. 11648) and expanding the coverage and benefits of solo parents (RA No. 11861).
During the succeeding Congress, she has pushed for enacting stricter enforcement measures against Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (OSAEC) via the Anti-OSAEC law (RA 11930).
Additionally, Hontiveros introduced priority legislations to provide additional protection to workers who are frequently sidelined.
These include the Protektadong Online Workers, Entrepreneurs, Riders At Raketera (POWERR) Bill (SB No. 1373), the Anti-Endo and Contracting Bill (SB No. 145), the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers (SB No. 586), the Public Sector Labor Relations Bill (SB No. 587), the Bibong BHW Bill (SB No. 580), and the Maternity Benefit for Women in the Informal Economy Bill (SB No. 148).
“Magiging mata tayo sa mga anomalya kasabay ng pagsusulong ng mga batas para sa pag-unlad ng bawat Pilipino, as promised.”
“Sa pagpasok ng bagong Kongreso, hinding-hindi tayo hihinto sa pagtatrabaho upang gampanan at maging tapat sa mandato ng Konstitusyon sa Senado bilang institusyon. Magiging mata tayo sa mga anomalya kasabay ng pagsusulong ng mga batas para sa pag-unlad ng bawat Pilipino, as promised,” she said.
Hontiveros, through partnerships with local government units, has continued her campaign advocacy via the “Healthy Buhay at Hanapbuhay” mobile community Health Services in order to provide Filipinos in remote places with access to free diagnostic services, medicines, and tertiary health care referral.
She has also received numerous prestigious awards for her work in the inclusion of women and children in social justice, including Esquire Magazine’s Maverick of the Year and PeopleAsia’s Women of Substance and Style.