Risa Hontiveros

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Ana Theresia Navarro Hontiveros-Baraquel (born 24 February 1966) is an activist, politician and former journalist. She is currently a senator, serving in this capacity since 2016. Previously, she was a representative for Akbayan partylist from 2004 to 2010. Hontiveros is a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs[1], where tens of thousands[2] of individuals, including drug suspects, bystanders and children, have been killed in police operations.[3]

On 1 October 2021, Hontiveros filed her certificate of candidacy for the 2022 senatorial elections. She is running under her party, Akbayan, but is also supported by the Liberal Party. She is part of the ticket of Vice President Leni Robredo, who announced her candidacy in the 2022 presidential election on 7 October 2021.

Early life

Ana Theresia Navarro Hontiveros-Baraquel, more popularly known as Risa Hontiveros, was born on 24 February 1966 in Manila. She finished her elementary education in 1979 and her secondary education in 1983, both at St. Scholastica’s College.[4] During this period, she was a theater actress, playing one of the Von Trapp children in the Repertory Philippines’ 1980 adaptation of The Sound of Music alongside Lea Salonga, Raymond Lauchengco, and Monique Wilson.[5] She also performed in La Salle Greenhills’ production of Grease and appeared on the noontime show Student Canteen. Hontiveros’s activism began during this period. While in high school, she was an organizer in the protests against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.[6]

Hontiveros took up social sciences at the Ateneo de Manila University, graduating cum laude.[7] She was part of the student council while in university.

As an activist, she was the secretary-general of Coalition for Peace from 1998 to 1992 and has served in the governing council of the National Peace Conference since 1990.[8] From August 1998 to June 1999, she was the chair of the Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms of the Government Panel for Peace Talks with the National Democratic Front, and was a member of the board of directors of Amnesty International Philippines.

During her career in journalism, she worked as a news anchor for GMA Network and IBC.[9]

Political career

House of Representatives

Hontiveros entered politics in 2004 when she was elected as a representative for Akbayan partylist. A third nominee of the partylist, she was a staunch critic of the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, particularly during the scandal that broke following the allegations of electoral fraud against the president.[10] During a peaceful celebration of International Women’s Day in 2006, Hontiveros was among individuals who were arrested and taken to Camp Caringal in Quezon City.[11]

In the 2007 elections, Hontiveros once again secured a seat in the House of Representatives after being elected as the first nominee of Akbayan partylist. In addition to being part of the house minority, she was a member of the committees on appropriations, ethics and privileges, foreign affairs, good government and public accountability, health, higher and technical education, human rights, natural resources, peace, reconciliation and unity, people participation, rules, trade and industry, women and gender equality.

During her time in the House of Representatives, Hontiveros authored and filed bills that were successfully passed into law, including the cheaper medicines law and the comprehensive agrarian reform program extension with reforms (CARPER). She also drafted anti-prostitution, gender balance, and students’ rights and welfare bills.[12]


After failed senatorial bids in the 2010 and 2013 elections in which she placed 13th and 17th, respectively, Hontiveros finally won a seat in the upper house in the 2016 elections under outgoing president Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s Koalisyon ng Daang Matuwid. She garnered the 9th highest number of votes. Her platform was activism for justice and equality for all, and focused on women’s rights, health, LGBT rights, environment, children’s rights, fishermen’s and farmers’ rights, government reform, and students’ rights.

After her election as senator, Hontiveros joined other congresspersons in filing Senate Bill No. 935, or the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression Equality) Bill, which had languished in congress after being initially filed in 2000 by late senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and former Akbayan partylist representative Etta Rosales. In November 2016, Hontiveros was among protestors who opposed the stealth burial[13] of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.[14]

In 2017, Hontiveros crafted Senate Bill No. 1345, or the Philippine Mental Health Bill, which sought to incorporate mental health care services and programs into the public health system. The legislation was enacted as the Philippine Mental Health Law in June 2018.[15]

Hontiveros has been among the vocal critics of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, in which tens of thousands[16] of drug suspects as well as bystanders have been killed in police operations, according to a United Nations report in June 2020. Hontiveros, along with other senators, initiated an investigation into the killing of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos in August 2017. She also took legal custody of the case’s witnesses, who feared for their safety.[17]

In May 2018, Hontiveros criticized Malacanang for its “sheepish response” to China’s intrusion into the West Philippine Sea and the Benham Rise.[18] Later that month, she bemoaned the removal of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno from office.[19]

In July 2018, the Senate passed a bill that sought to provide mandatory PhilHealth coverage to people with disabilities (PWDs).[20] Hontiveros principally authored and sponsored the bill. Another one of the bills authored by Hontiveros, the Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Bill, which aimed to address hunger and malnutrition among children from grade 3 to 6, was enacted in July 2018.[21] In August 2018, a year after the killing of Kian Delos Santos, Hontiveros filed a resolution declaring August 16, the date of the said killing, as National Day of Remembrance for all the victims of extrajudicial killings in Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.[22]

In October 2018, the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017, which Hontiveros principally authored and sponsored, was passed in the Senate. [23]The proposed act seeks to protect citizens, particularly women, from all forms of harassment in the streets and other public spaces.

In January 2019, Republic Act 11166 or the HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018 was enacted. Hontiveros principally authored and sponsored the legislation, which provides the expansion of access to evidence-based HIV strategies and facilitates access to knowledge about one’s HIV status.[24] Also in January 2019, Hontiveros filed the divorce bill.[25]

In August 2020, Hontiveros pushed for the creation of a body that would guard spending in PhilHealth[26] and started an investigation into the alleged corruption and mafia system in the agency during the administration of current health secretary Francisco Duque III.[27]


Hontiveros’s legislative work is focused on education, health, women’s rights, LGBT rights, human rights, and basic civil liberties. The following are among laws principally authored and sponsored by Hontiveros.

  • Republic Act 9502 – Cheaper and Quality Medicines Law
  • Republic Act 9700 – Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension With Reforms (CARPER) Law
  • Republic Act 10932 – Act Strengthening the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law
  • Republic Act 11036 – Philippine Mental Health Law
  • Republic Act 11037 – Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act
  • Republic Act 11166 – HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018
  • Republic Act 11210 – Expanded Maternity Leave Law
  • Republic Act (TBA) – Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act

Awards and Recognition

  • 1994 Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas Golden Dove Awards for Best Female Newscaster
  • 2001 Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award for Peace and Advocacy
  • 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nomination
  • 2017 Love Gala Ripple Award for HIV-AIDS awareness
  • 2018 Lagablab Network Equality Champion Award
  • 2019 Silver Rose Award for social justice

Personal life

Hontiveros was married to Francisco Baraquel Jr. [28]He died in May 2005 from a heart attack due to severe asthma. They have four children.




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  1. https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/658419/duterte-lost-wars-on-drugs-endo-poverty-risa-hontiveros-says/story/ GMA Network. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/04/philippines-police-may-have-killed-tens-of-thousands-with-near-impunity-in-drug-war-un The Guardian. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  3. https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/PH/Philippines-HRC44-AEV.pdf Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  4. https://coconuts.co/manila/news/throwback-senator-risa-hontiveros-shares-photo-her-high-school-days/ Coconuts Manila. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  5. https://news.abs-cbn.com/lifestyle/05/23/16/did-you-know-risa-hontiveros-was-once-a-theater-actress ABS-CBN News. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  6. https://legacy.senate.gov.ph/senators/sen_bio/hontiveros_bio18th.asp Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  7. https://www.rappler.com/nation/risa-hontiveros-says-discipline-bully-help-heal-victim-ateneo-junior-high-school Rappler. August 20, 2021.
  8. http://www.akbayan.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=89 AKBAYAN: Ibangon Dangal ng Pilipino (Party Website). Akbayan Citizens' Action Party. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  9. https://www.philstar.com/entertainment/2016/05/02/1578834/risa-i-know The Philippine Star. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  10. https://web.archive.org/web/20110718113331/http://www.workspresso.com/20070601%20edition/archives/2006/sep1-15-06/current/features_current/feature2.html Planet Philippines. Buzzword Media Corporation. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPS-O9Yihsg Retrieved August 20, 2021 – via YouTube
  12. http://i-site.ph/Databases/Congress/13thHouse/personal/baraquel-personal.html Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  13. https://www.rappler.com/nation/petitioners-reaction-marcos-burial Rappler. August 20, 2021.
  14. http://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/151749-full-text-risa-hontiveros-marcos-burial Rappler. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  15. https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/06/21/18/duterte-approves-mental-health-law-hontiveros ABS-CBN News. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  16. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/04/philippines-police-may-have-killed-tens-of-thousands-with-near-impunity-in-drug-war-un The Guardian. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  17. https://news.mb.com.ph/2017/08/20/hontiveros-takes-witnesses-in-kians-slay-under-her-protective-custody Manila Bulletin. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  18. https://globalnation.inquirer.net/166661/news-risa-hontiveros-china-west-philippine-sea-artificial-islands Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  19. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/989494/hontiveros-serenos-ouster-a-stab-to-constitutions-heart Philippine Dailiy Inquirer. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  20. http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2018/0730_hontiveros1.asp Senate of the Philippines. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  21. http://www.rappler.com/nation/206418-duterte-signs-national-feeding-program-law Rappler. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  22. https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/664348/hontiveros-wants-aug-16-declared-as-national-day-of-remembrance-to-commemorate-kian-s-death/story/ GMA Network. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  23. http://www.rappler.com/nation/213812-senate-approves-bill-vs-catcalling-street-harassment Rappler. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  24. https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/01/11/1884227/who-philippines-lauds-passage-new-law-hiv-aids Philippine Star. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  25. https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/01/16/19/hontiveros-files-divorce-bill-in-senate ABS-CBN News. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  26. https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/08/07/20/hontiveros-seeks-creation-of-anti-overpricing-body-to-police-philhealth-spending ABS-CBN. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  27. https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/08/11/20/duque-cant-feign-ignorance-of-philhealth-corruption-hontiveros ABS-CBN News. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  28. http://news.abs-cbn.com/video/lifestyle/05/13/16/risa-hontiveros-single-and-ready-to-mingle ABS-CBN News. Retrieved August 20, 2021.