Questions surrounding how Risa Hontiveros raised funds for her senatorial campaign persist

Richard Javad Haeydarian writes a puff piece for Risa Hontiveros

Over the past four years, she has fought for human rights and democracy, for social justice and decency, and took up the cudgels, often alone and at great personal risk, for the voiceless victims of the madness that is authoritarian populism.

Don’t be fooled by her soft-spoken words and gentle demeanor. In many ways, she has been the “iron lady” of the progressive movement in the Philippines. Hers is unmistakable conviction politics, which rejects both macho populism and vacuous liberalism. May there be more like her in our midst.

Note that Hontiveros is up for a second term in the Senate. No one has questioned how she managed to raise funds for her Senatorial campaigns in 2010, 2013 and 2016. Others before her quit after the first attempt because it is expensive to run for national office. But not Risa. Each time after the one year ban on appointments expired, former President Noynoy Aquino would appoint her to a government post.

Remember the PhilHealth infomercials which ran prior to the 2016 election? How much did those spots cost on primetime radio and TV? The problem of the opposition in the next election cycle is funding. When one is in the opposition the budget is limited. The allowances that a Senator gets is not enough to fund a reelection campaign. But for sure, the backers of the opposition will open their wallets. Risa doesn’t have the advantage of a President and his adviser on Political Affairs backing her like she had when Aquino was President. This works both ways because the same can be said for administration candidates as well.

If we want genuine change to come, the Omnibus Election Code should be amended to allow the public to make campaign donations to candidates. This at least ensures an element of transparency and accountability to the public. We also need to remember that once the campaign period begins, we have to put a stop to obstructionists being elected to office.

What is best is for the political structure to be changed to a federal parliamentary system. This is essential moving forward in an environment where COVID-19 is endemic. It ensures that proper and required legislation is put forth in parliament by the Cabinet Ministers who are in the best position to do so as part of the two branches of government. It will also save the public a lot of money which results in more funds available for government services to citizens.

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