Hontiveros says varying 'shades of opposition' okay, ready to push Pharmally probe in next Congress

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) – Senator Risa Hontiveros admits she’s facing a daunting task being the lone opposition lawmaker in the next Senate, but assures she’s up to the challenge.

In a media interview on Wednesday, Hontiveros said her priority now is to form the minority bloc in the chamber. Along with Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Hontiveros said they have reached out to “three to four” colleagues in hopes they will join the minority, without any talks yet on who will lead the bloc.

Hontiveros refused to name names, but said the meetings do not yet include Senator Joel Villanueva, who has expressed openness to be part of the minority, as well as siblings Pia Cayetano and Alan Peter Cayetano.

Both Pimentel and Cayetano have said the minority’s job is to keep the majority in check – not necessarily oppose the administration.

“Hindi lahat ng miyembro ng minorya ay maaring ganoon din ang degree ng pagiging oposisyon sa isa’t isa pero okay lang yun," Hontiveros said. "May shades of opposition, may shades of minority within the minority pero malinaw na may critical stance ang minorya."

[Translation: Not all members of the minority may have the same degree of opposition but that’s okay. There are shades of opposition, shades of minority within the minority, but what’s clear is it has a critical stance.]

Asked if she has any fears about being alone in the opposition, Hontiveros said she has yet to see a complete picture of the next six years under President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. But she’s had her share of fears since her younger years as an activist during the tail end of the dictatorship of his father, Ferdinand E. Marcos, Hontiveros said.

“So siguro sapat na yung quota ko ng takot mula sa nakaraan, mahalaga sa akin iyon bilang gabay din,” Hontiveros said.

[Translation: I think I have reached my quota of fear from the past, that’s important to me as a guide.]

She’s also taking part in Vice President Leni Robredo’s “Angat Buhay” non-government organization, saying she was part of a dinner meeting after the elections when the movement was discussed.

In the next Congress, Hontiveros said she’d be “very willing” to file a resolution seeking further investigation on the Pharmally controversy if the draft report of the Blue Ribbon Committee would fail to secure plenary approval.

To date, only seven regular members of the committee have signed the report, short of two signatures for it to be debated and put to a vote in the plenary. It recommends charges against President Rodrigo Duterte, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and other officials and personalities tagged in the alleged anomalous supply deals of the government with Pharmally during the pandemic.

Hontiveros said Duterte’s inclusion may be behind his allies’ hesitance to sign the report, but she’s hoping there would still be a “meeting of the minds” on the last session day on Wednesday.

“I think yung nagawang trabaho na ng Blue Robbon committee sa ilalim ni Sen. Dick ay masyadong mahalaga para iwang bitin lamang or maarchive lamang siya,” she said.

[Translation: I think the Blue Ribbon Committee’s job under Sen. Dick Gordon is too important to be left hanging in the balance or archived.]

“Tatayuan ko rin po yung mga findings na iyon lalo na yung sa overpriced pandemic supplies at meron talagang napakahalagng mga rekomendasyon rin,” Hontiveros added.

[Translation: I will stand by the findings, especially the overpriced pandemic supplies and other important recommendations.]