MANILA, June 4 (PNA) –- The Philippines is ready to share its experience on the role of Filipino women in the handling of the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which led to the recent signing of the historic Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that will pave the way to end the long-drawn Mindanao armed conflict.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles made the statement Wednesday in a speech at the send-off of the Philippine Delegation to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict 2014 slated in London next week.
Deles said that Filipino women are in the forefront with regards to the involvement in peace negotiations.
“We have blazed a trail, ahead of many other countries, for women’s participation in its peace processes,” she said, adding that “the government peace panel that successfully negotiated a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is chaired by a woman, UP Professor Miriam Coronel Ferrer and includes another woman member, erstwhile Presidential Assistant on Muslim Affairs now Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Yasmin Busran-Lao.”
“In fact, the technical working groups on normalization and wealth-sharing, the secretariat, and the legal team of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the peace process are all headed by women,” Deles said.
She pointed out that the recent signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) “is a major victory for women.”
“Indeed, I think that my fellow delegates will agree with me when I say, in a mix of pride and humility, we are ready to share our experiences in the hopes of inspiring similar stories of success for our sisters –- our peers -– involved in peace tables around the world,” Deles said.
Deles said the Philippine women delegation to the summit will “showcase the successes we have achieved and the difference we’ve made in this important sphere of our national life.”
“I have said this many times, women are among the most often and the most victimized in times of armed conflict. Women, along with children, the elderly, and those with disability, are the most vulnerable in war. Women may comprise half of the world’s population yet we continue to be underrepresented in decision-making bodies that affect our lives,” she said.
“We know it doesn’t have to be that way. Indeed, in the Philippines, more and more Filipino women over the past decade have played decisive roles in society — as heads of families, business executives, political leaders, community workers, government officials, and civil society organizers,” she added.
In the peace process in particular, Deles said, women have been breaking ground, taking on active roles and succeeding as negotiators, mediators, peacekeepers, peace builders, relief workers, trauma healers -– the list goes on.
“We expect its effects and benefits, both symbolic and real, to be far-reaching and which we hope will benefit not just the Philippine peace process but peace processes worldwide,” she said.
Deles also said “the women of the Bangsamoro, the CAB expressly upholds the right of women to “meaningful political participation and protection from all forms of violence. It also upholds the right to equal opportunity and non-discrimination in social and economic activity and public service” regardless of gender.”
The inclusion of these provisions was made possible by the participation of women on the Bangsamoro peace table, from both the side of the government and of the MILF, she added.
“Going beyond our borders, it is significant to note that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is the first of its kind in the world to bear the signature of a total of three women, which accounts for one-half of the si-person negotiating team of the GPH, and about one-fourth of the total number of signatories. It is the first such agreement to bear the signature of a woman with the role of chief negotiator,” Deles said.
These gains and milestones are what we will bring next week to London, as the members of the Philippine Peace Process delegation to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
However, she said, “having achieved these gains does not in any way mean work for us is done. In fact, we remain tenacious and ferocious because there is still so much work to be done. Too many of our communities -– children and those who are weak especially –continue to suffer from our lingering internal armed conflicts.”
“We are one with you in the dream for peace and in putting an end to impunity. Our fight is far from over. We strive for peace at the same time we work for those who have been victimized by conflict. Our own struggle in the Bangsamoro peace process is far from over. A lot stand between the Signing of the CAB and the Signing of the Exit agreement as lined up in the Roadmap on the Establishment of the Bangsamoro. What we have achieved is merely the beginning. We have yet to start the more important task of bringing the agreements to a reality. But a good start it is already with the significant participation of women to accompany the process to completion,” Deles said.
“It is our hope that our sharing of what we have experienced, and what we have learned will help inspire women around the world, especially in countries where peaceful negotiated settlement are being pursued to put end to violent armed conflict. May it bring them courage to take their rightful places in the peace tables, and pave the way for a real just and lasting peace in our lands,” she noted.
At the same time, Deles said the Philippine government has made significant strides in protecting and fulfilling women’s rights in situations of conflict.
For example, in 2010, the Philippine government adopted its National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security that is anchored on and provided legal basis by Republic Act 9710, the Magna Carta for Women, making the Philippines the first country in Asia that has adopted a policy to operationalize its commitment to the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 1325, 1820 and 1888.
“These resolutions acknowledge women’s capacity to make decisions on women, peace and security issues; recognize sexual violence as a tactic of war and a possible war crime, and establish leadership, deploy expertise, and improve coordination among stakeholders involved in addressing conflict-related sexual violence,” Deles said.
Deles thanked the organizers of the special event led by Ambassador Asif Ahmad of the British Embassy and Ambassador Bill Tweddle of the Australian Embassy.
She also cited the members of the Peace Process Delegation organized by the British and Australian Embassies and the members of the Philippine Delegation organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs. (PNA)