former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Presidential Adviser Ronald Llamas
Akbayan bet sees uphill battle in Senate bid
MANILA, Philippines - Team PNoy senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday flatly denied having an affair with Akbayan leader and Presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas.
"First of all, I deny it," Hontiveros said on ANC's Harapan 2013 forum on senatorial candidates.
She also expressed dismay at being asked the question posted on social media site Twitter.
"May sexism sa premise ng tanong that a woman's political ideas, actions ay nakabatay kung kanino siya konektado," she said.
Hontiveros is a widow.
Hontiveros, a feminist activist who represented the Akbayan party in Congress for two terms, admitted that she was handpicked by President Benigno Aquino to join the Team PNoy coalition led by the ruling Liberal Party.
She said she believes in Aquino's reform agenda. "Iyung pag-imbita ni Aquino ay tinanggap ko dahil ang reform agenda niya ay nagbubukas ng espasyo sa iba pang reporma."
Hontiveros came close to winning a seat in the 2010 senatorial elections. She placed 13th and was edged out of the last slot by Teofisto "TG" Guingona.
"May mga laban akong nasimulan noon na gusto kong ipagpatuloy pa," she said on her decision to run again for senator in the May elections.
Hontiveros said more than 9 million Filipinos who voted for her in last elections continue to support her advocacies and legislative platform.
However, she admitted that the coming elections will be a tough fight.
"[It's an] uphill battle na walang mabigat na apelyido sa pulitika, walang malaking pera," she said.
"I need to work even harder, reach out to more groups. Patuloy ako nagpapaunlak magsalita sa mga eskwelahan," Hontiveros said.
She placed only 18th in the pre-election survey of private pollster Pulse Asia.
Asked if she will tap entertainment media and celebrities to boost her popularity ahead of the elections, Hontiveros replied, "If I was invited, I would guest on entertainment programs."
She added that she is willing to ally with entertainment stars who support her views on women and anti-corruption. "Kung may celebrities na naniniwala sa laban ko, ipagpapasalamat ko."
Hontiveros also vowed to push for the freedom of information (FOI) bill that failed anew to hurdle Congress.
Despite Aquino and Liberal party leaders being blamed for the FOI bill's failure, Hontiveros said the current administration is keen on having such a law.
"Aquino says the FOI bill will be one of his priorities. Palace submitted its version," she said. "Hindi ko maintindihan bakit hindi na-muster ang political will para ipasa ang FOI bill."
She believes that political reforms must also reach the halls of the Senate.
"Mabigat ang nakataya sa halalan. Hindi pwede ang Senado na pang-status quo," she said.
"Kailangan natin ng Senadong lalaban hindi lamang sa iilan kundi sa buong bayan," Hontiveros added.