Robredo passes opposition leadership to Hontiveros

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 27 2022 12:10 PM | Updated as of Jun 27 2022 01:42 PM

Reelected Senator Risa Hontiveros takes her oath of office before outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo. Hontiveros was accompanied by her 3 daughters. Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News
Reelected Senator Risa Hontiveros takes her oath of office before outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo. Hontiveros was accompanied by her 3 daughters. Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) — Outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday passed the leadership of the opposition to Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who said she would help boost economic recovery and fight disinformation. 

Hontiveros, who ran for reelection in the May 9 elections under the Akbayan party, is now the highest elected official from the opposition, Robredo noted when she administered the lawmaker's oath of office. 

"[Noong] alam na natin ‘yung resulta ng eleksyon, tinext ko si Senator Risa. Sabi ko kay Senator Risa, 'Ikaw na ‘yung lider namin. Kaya please know na nasa likod mo lang kami. Nasa likod mo lang kami, tutulong kung kailan mo kami kailangan,'" said Robredo. 

(When we learned of the election result, I texted Senator Risa. I told her, 'You are now our leader, so please know we have your back. We will help whenever you need us.) 

"Uulitin ko ‘yun ngayon, Sen. Risa, na you are now the highest elected official sa oposisyon and lahat kami masaya na ikaw ‘yung natitirang humahawak ng ating bandila," she continued. 

(We're all happy that you were the one who remained to raise our flag.)

Hontiveros said she would continue her advocacies at the Senate, including efforts on COVID-19 response and other health initiatives.

“We will help spur economic growth and restore healthcare services disrupted by the pandemic. As promised, we will facilitate an increase of budgets for agencies integral to our recovery initiatives. Tuloy pa rin ang ating adbokasiya para sa Healthy Buhay at Hanapbuhay,” Hontiveros said.

(Our advocacy continues for healthy life and livelihood.)

She added that she would resist false information and fight for constitutionally guaranteed freedoms such as freedoms of expression, assembly, and the press.

“We will fight back harder, against rumors, lies, propaganda, and fake news. Let me make this even clearer. This is a stern warning to all the dubious characters in the fake news universe. This time, we will not let your reckless disregard for truth slander our democracy—our country— ever again,” said Hontiveros.

Before Hontiveros was sworn in, Robredo also administered the oath of office of re-elected Iloilo Board Member Jason Gonzales, who has been a supporter of the initiatives of the Office of the Vice President.

Robredo, who steps down on June 30, is set to lead a non-government organization, the Angat Buhay Foundation. 

Immediately after taking her oath, Hontiveros attended a thanksgiving Mass at the Our Lady of Remedies Parish in Malate, Manila.

She was joined by her family, friends, supporters, Senate and campaign staff, and people who worked with her in her first term in the upper chamber of Congress.

During the homily, Bishop Antonio Tobias expressed happiness that Hontiveros won, being the lone opposition senator who bagged a Senate seat in the 2022 elections.

"Ang kalagayan ng ordinaryong tao, maiangat sana. 'Yung mga nasa laylayan, aangat. Risa, sa yo namin inilalagay ang aming pag-asa," Tobias said.

(We hope the condition of ordinary people will be improved. We place our hope in you, Risa.)

In a short message after the mass, Hontiveros thanked her family, her daughters and their partners, staff, and all her supporters.

"Lahat kayo dito ay naging tulay sa aking tagumpay. All of you, you are my pillars of support. Napakalaking karangalan na katawanin kayo sa Senado," she said.

(All of you here led to my victory. All of you are my pillars of support. It's a huge honor to represent you in the Senate.)

Hontiveros said that a time to pause and think was important in her work in public office.

"Sa panahon ngayon na mabilis ng takbo ng oras, naniniwala ako na kailangan natin ng pagkakataon nito kung saan tayo nagmemenor, humihinto, at nagninilay," Hontiveros said.

(Nowadays when time passes quickly, I believe this is the opportunity to pause and reflect.)

Despite being Catholic, Hontiveros has pushed for progressive bills such as the SOGIE Equality Bill, Safe Spaces Act, and other laws that would advance the causes of women.

"Ang Catholic social teachings ang unang nagbigay sa'kin ng inspirasyon bilang aktibista at pulitiko," she explained.

(The Catholic social teachings were the first to inspire me to as an activist and a politician.)

She also said she was not alone in the minority, contrary to what many say. Hontiveros is the only senator from the Robredo-Pangilinan slate who won a seat in the Senate.

"Tinatawag tayo bilang lone opposition, nag-iisang kinatawan mula sa kabilang bakod. Ako lang daw natira sa Tropang Angat. Pero ang totoo, kasama ko kayong lahat," she said.

(I'm called the lone opposition, the lone representative from across the aisle, the only one who remained in Tropang Angat. But the truth is, you're all with me.)

Hontiveros said her office will remain open for consultations regarding bills that will benefit those at the fringes of society, or the laylayan.

"Naniniwala ako, at turo din ito ng simbahan, na lagi at lagi, may pag-asa. I always believe that hope is never lost," she ended.

(I believe, and the Church also teaches this, that there's always hope.)

A song performance from Noel Cabangon capped the Thanksgiving Mass.

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