IT WAS a gathering of militants and mainstream alike, a room full of women all wanting to be heard and to be given due attention by the next administration.

Thus, Davao City Mayor and presidential candidate Rodrigo Ruterte said he will study the women’s agenda raised to him during the Forum of Women for Action with Rody Duterte (ForwaRD) attended by around 300 women delegates from different areas in Mindanao last Saturday afternoon.

“You have aligned it, and I was listening, I have to read it comprehensively so that I can formulate my campaign and my commitment to you, if I will win. But if I will not, I will go retirement and even if that happens, you can always count on me,” Duterte said in a speech.

In an interview with Gabriela Representative Luz Ilagan along the sidelines of the forum, she said that through the forum, women delegates were able to push for the women’s agenda to be accepted and implemented.

“So ang pangalan sa forum kay forwaRD, meaning grupo sa women na nag-craft ug women’s agenda unsa jud ang mga aspirations of women from the whole of Mindanao, tapos gipresent kay Mayor Duterte it covered lahat ng area (The name of the forum is forwaRD, wherein a group of women crafted a women’s agenda to list the aspirations of women from all over Mindanao, and this was presented to Mayor Duterte),” she said.

Ilagan said the agenda is about peace in Mindanao, political concerns, social, economic realm and strengthening legislations and good governance to assure extension of benefits to women.

“What women want is peace, no-corruption, no biased implementation of laws when it comes to economy, more jobs, an improved life and most of all, delivery of services especially in the aspect of health,” Ilagan said.

Duterte, in a separate interview, said that he is considering the agenda but it will need money from the government once implemented.

“A lot of funding needed; for those who have no husbands and those who are widowed, there is always this question of money. This time, they wanted to have this, a Commission for Women, and I am ready to provide that. For as long as we cut down the corruption, for sure, we will have money,” Duterte said.

Meanwhile, Ilagan brushed off the attacks on Duterte with regards his womanizing ways.

“The womanizing and kissing, most of that is media hype. We know because, we really know the ways of our mayor, of who he actually is. Even if he said that he is a womanizer, and naa siya’y mga girlfriend, remember that the mayor is already separated. His marriage has been annulled,” Ilagan said.

She said people should look beyond what the mayor says and ponder on what he has done and is doing for women in general.

Ilagan said that she thinks Duterte is the candidate who will carry out the agenda.

In a position paper issued by the group, it said the women leaders came to the event to support Duterte for president.

“We do not and will never condone the kissing and womanizing. Mayor Duterte may not be the perfect man but he is the only candidate who can effective carry the women’s agenda,” the group said.

Among notable attendees of the forum were former Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Councilor Maria Belen Acosta, Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, Councilor Myrna Dalodo-Ortiz, Councilor Petit Principe, and other women leaders.