Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros-Baraquel’s (born 1966) activism has evolved with the struggles of the progressive movement. Her journey has brought her to various arenas of engagement where she has played different roles – from a student leader working the parliament of the streets during the martial law period, to peace advocate establishing "zones of peace", to peace talks panelist negotiating with leaders of the armed left, and now a legislator engaging the state from within. She believes that lasting peace can only be achieved through social, economic and political reform.
It is said that crisis usually brings out the best in people. This is particularly true in the case of Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, whose activism grew during the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. The country was in deep social and political turmoil and Risa rose to become a notable figure in the anti-dictatorship movement as a student leader and founding member of the Student Christian Alliance. Risa considers herself a child of various streams of thought, inspired by the ideas of Gandhi and Paolo Freire, active non-violence and Latin American liberation theology. Seeing life through such lenses, Risa is certain that fundamental changes are needed in Philippine society. But she is firm in her belief that this should be achieved not through armed struggle, but through peaceful means. Even as a child Risa was revolted by physical violence, thus her progressive but pacifist stance as an activist. Helping grassroots communities establish zones of peace in villages across the archipelago, she underscores the atrocities that both state and non-state actors inflict on others that in turn result in cycles of violence. Risa advocates a more holistic approach to peace, which has made her explore various formal and informal venues for intervention. Married to a police officer and the mother of four children, Risa is secretary general of the Coalition for Peace and recently, she assumed the post of representative of the Akbayan Citizen's Action Party in the Philippine Congress. Through the peace movement and the commitment of peace workers like Risa, peace advocacy in the Philippines has gradually attained the urgency and attention it deserves.
Coalition for Peace Philippine Panel in Peace Negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDFP)