WOMEN leaders from different government and non-government agencies jointly launched yesterday the Mindanao Women’s Peace Table.
Chairperson of Regional Commission on Bangsamoro Women of Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Sittie Jehann U. Mutin, team leader for Resilience and Peace Building Unit of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)- Alma Evangelista, Member of the Government of the Philippines, peace negotiating panel for talks with Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) Angela Librado Yap, Commissioner of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Rowena Guanzon, and Chair of the Implementing Panel of the Bangsamoro Peace Accords Irene M. Santiago gave each a solidarity speech before the women contingents who came as far as Basilan and Tawi-Tawi to join the event that includes a three-day training on mediation skills.
Nida Duns from the Mother’s of Peace Isabela City, one of the prime movers of the peace table who was later tapped by the Oppap, in her welcome address expressed her optimism on the launching of the peace table.
“We are positive that after this afternoon and tommorow’s training and workshop our skills will be enhanced through values based dialogue and public conversations, these cannot be done by force but can only be achieved by understanding,” Duns said.
Duns also challenged all the women in the area to keep the peace table open, despite the hardship and struggle it may entail.
“Let us all keep this table up, no matter how hard it would be for us sometimes because the more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war,” Duns said.
Mutin in her solidarity speech said that the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (Armm) is in solidarity with the peace talks and that they are ready to resign in their current job as officials of Armm, to give way to peace talks.
She said that in behalf of the Bangsamoro, they are happy that the peace table was built as women sector long for a platform where they can speak their voices out.
Evangelista for her part also expressed that UNDP as an organization are very willing to support dialogue venues such as the peace tables that are critical in the peace process.
She also said that the peace negotiations is now at a critical point, as platforms had been built and established for peace has not worked out, she urged individual involvement in the matter.
Librado stressed that women’s perspective and inputs in the peace agreements are also needed as there are topics that should be raised and defended by women.
She cited as example the provision for officials to monitor harassment and molestations, which are considered trivial by men but not by women.
She said that these women issues are real, and only a woman can speak about it, especially in a male-dominated panel.
“Women should talk louder and talk seriously about peace so that peace talks can proceed successfully,” Librado added.
Guanzon as a Comelec official promised to push for Magna Carna for Women election rules.
She added that studies already prove that when women are elected to local government post, an area becomes more peaceful.
“We will ensure that more women will sit on government post, as election rules have changed," she said.
Santiago also said that women are a force of change, and should be taken seriously on peace tables.
Women and mothers are integral part of the implementation of the peace agreements in the drafting and the passage of the enabling law of the new Bangsamoro Government, if it were to pass in congress, and that they will also form part of the normalization process, she said.
She added that they are hopeful that the training will enable the women to organize peace circles effectively in their own commnities.