In a national multi-sectoral forum on Sunday, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros called for a broad political opposition against President Rodrigo Duterte's rising authoritarianism. She stressed the need for different opposition groups to come together under one call.
"We cannot allow this new form of authoritarianism to rise unchallenged. All progressive, reform-oriented and democratic forces must close ranks to build a viable and sustainable political and democratic opposition to President Duterte's undemocratic rule," Hontiveros said in the event entitled "So Ano Na?" at the Bahay ng Alumni in University of the Philippines-Diliman.
"Struggle for a new and better democracy"
The Senator, however, said that in order to mount an effective opposition, the defense of democracy must also be a struggle for a "new and better democracy."
"Truth is, the rise of undemocratic rule is the result of the failure of elite democracy and reforms constrained by the limits of what has remained to be a largely traditional political system. If we want an effective defense of democracy, we must offer a better form of democracy. Let us remember, the people's embrace of authoritarian shortcuts is a sharp critique of the kind of democracy we now have," Hontiveros explained.
Meanwhile, Hontiveros denounced Duterte's plan to expand Martial Law throughout the rest of the country.
"We have been constantly threatened with 'Unli-Martial Law.' Ang tingin ni Presidente Duterte sa Martial Law ay parang unli-rice. Ang Kongreso naman tila parang isang carinderia. Kahit wala pang order ng Unli-Martial Law, handang-handa na ito ibigay sa pangulo," the senator said.
"Hokages" in government
Hontiveros, who is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Women, also underscored the climate of sexism and misogyny under the Duterte government.
"Recently, the despicable "Pastor Hokage culture" of posting and sharing obscene photos of women and children online reared its ugly head. To be honest, I wasn't surprised. Why? The Hokage culture was alive and well in the halls of Congress when it attempted to a show a fake sex video of Senator Leila De Lima. The 'Hokage' culture is also solidly embodied by no less than the President himself who has singlehandedly driven to unparalleled extremes male chauvinism, misogyny and sexism," she said.
"Minority Senators work the hardest"
Hontiveros shared the reforms won by the people in the legislative front. The senator presented three of her bills that have been approved by the Senate: the Expanded Maternity Leave Bill, the Mental Health Act, and the strengthened Anti-Hospital Deposit Bill.
"Despite all the difficulties and challenges, despite the political persecution and hostility, I am proud to say that it is the minority senators who work hardest in the Senate," she concluded.
Source: Senate of the Philippines