Office of the Vice President
20 July 2017
Vice President Leni Robredo vowed to raise with government agencies the concerns of Bangsamoro women on the imposition of martial law in Mindanao.
VP Leni made the commitment when she met with representatives of various organizations for Bangsamoro women on Thursday morning, days before the expiration of the martial law declaration.
During the dialogue, VP Leni asked the participants about their thoughts on martial law, imposed on the whole of Mindanao following attacks of the Maute terror group in Marawi City.
The representatives, including those from women groups in Marawi, raised several issues about the state of internally-displaced persons in evacuation centers, among them the inadequate supply of relief goods in many of the neighboring towns that took in fleeing residents, and how the environment in these sites affect their health.
The participants raised their apprehensions about the extension of the martial law declaration, but noted how the recent proclamation is different from the one imposed during the Marcos regime.
They said the government must include civil society organizations and other stakeholders in planning the rehabilitation of Marawi, adding that it may not be a good idea to build a “tent city” for IDPs, given concerns related to Maranao culture, notably clan feuds or “rido,” as well as possible problems in accessing basic necessities in this set-up.
Moreover, the participants suggested that local governments in neighboring towns should encourage their residents to come back, noting how only about half of the reported IDPs came from Marawi. They said these residents, who fled for reasons including congestion and higher prices of goods in their areas, should instead be provided with livelihood opportunities, so that the national government may eventually be able to focus on helping Marawi evacuees.
They likewise noted that residents from other towns, who work inside or own businesses in Marawi City, also need assistance despite not being recognized as IDPs.
For her part, VP Leni said she will relay these concerns with agencies handling the implementation of martial law, notably the Department of National Defense.
She also reiterated that the issues raised by the women must be included in the discussion on the requested extension of martial law in Mindanao, with Congress set to hold a special joint session on Saturday, July 22.
The Vice President, who earlier visited Marawi residents in evacuation centers, has said the IDPs’ main concern is how soon the situation will normalize in their area.
The dialogue with Bangsamoro women representatives was arranged in line with the Conference on National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.
The two-day workshop was organized by the Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute and PILIPINA to discuss women peacebuilders’ active participation in line with such concerns in the Bangsamoro.
The participants requested for a meeting with VP Leni, as they eye a possible partnership with the Office of the Vice President through its Angat Buhay program.
Among the women attendees were representatives from Marawi-based groups, including PILIPINA-Lanao chapter, the Al Mujadilah Development Foundation, and women weavers of Barangay Dayawan.