Senator Risa Hontiveros on Saturday, June 1, joined Filipino-Americans in a pre-Independence Day celebration event in California, sharing some of the Senate’s legislative achievements while calling for the continued defense of Philippine democracy.

In an event organized by Kalayaan, a non-government organization based in the United States, Hontiveros called on her countrymen and women to “come together and create spaces for meaningful conversations on issues that are important to the country.”

“While we may have differing opinions on where our country is going and the current state of governance, we are all bound by our love for the Philippines and our common desire to make lives better for Filipinos. I am hoping that for you, this means protecting women from misogynistic attacks, preserving our territories and natural resources from external incursions, protecting innocent people from the excesses of the police and the military, ensuring the freedom of the press as well as saying no to fake news,” Hontiveros said.

“The United States has consistently demonstrated to us, and as it is demonstrating to us now with the fascinating developments over the Mueller report, that a democracy, to be vibrant and strong, needs checks and balances. A President Donald Trump in the White House needs a Nancy Pelosi and an Alexandria Ocasio Cortez in Congress. In the same vein, a President Duterte in Malacañang needs as many independent and strong-minded legislators in the Congress as possible – all for the healthier and more sustained balance in the democratic systems of each country,” Hontiveros added.

Hontiveros, who is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Women and Vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Health, shared some of the Senate’s legislative achievements in the 17th Congress, chief among them were the Expanded Maternity Leave Law, the Mental Health Law, and the Strengthened Anti-Hospital Deposit Law.

She also discussed the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act, which lapsed into law last April 21. The measure penalizes wolf-whistling, cat-calling, and all forms of street harassment by giving the intended victim the ability to call out the harasser in real time, and seek out help from the authorities and deputized personnel.

“I am very happy to be the principal sponsor and author of these landmark measures. I thank my fellow Senators for helping me realize these important pieces of legislation. It demonstrates our hardwork, and is a reminder to countrymen and women that their faith in us was not misplaced,” Hontiveros said.

The pre-Independence Day event was held at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott.