Construction of OPAPP-assisted P15M Maguindanao women’s center begins PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 March 2013 15:28

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles led Tuesday the launching in Maguindanao of a P15 million worth  women’s center as a conduit for special humanitarian interventions for a sector now comprising more than 60 percent of the population in the province.
The activity, held in Buluan town and organized by the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, capped the launching of the first ever provincial women’s organization, whose newly-elected officials Deles prodded to help in the Mindanao peace process and in empowering Moro women in all of the 36 towns in the province.

The construction of the 2-storey women’s center, located beside the provincial government’s satellite office at the municipal center of Buluan, has been started ahead of its official launching on Tuesday, utilizing initial tranches from a P7 million counterpart from the coffer of the province.

The office of Deles committed P8 million for the project, which she promised to download to the provincial government before end of March 2013.

“That is a special package from the President,” Deles told reporters, referring to President Benigno Aquino III’s imprimatur for the release of the P8 million from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Deles said she was elated with how the provincial government has actively been engaging on ventures meant to empower the local youth and women sectors.

More than half of the 1.27 million residents of Maguindanao are women, according to the provincial planning and development office.

“Let us make a felt difference in the lives of women in Maguindanao,” Deles told representatives of women from different towns that attended the unveiling ceremony.

Also present in the event was Hadja Bainon Karon, the acting vice governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and concurrent ARMM social welfare secretary.

Mangudadatu said the women’s center will be open to Maguindanao’s Moro and non-Moro women, and widows of members of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Mangudadatu and Deles agreed on implementing joint projects, through the center, that could effectively address trafficking and recruitment of underage women for foreign employment, and hasten the prosecution of illegal recruiters and traffickers.

Mangudadatu said the provincial women’s organization will be tapped to help educate local communities on gender sensitivity, the protection of the rights of women, and the need to involve them in the management of community affairs and in the peace process.

Deles underscored the need for women to participate in activities complementing the peace process, being the most affected by armed conflicts and natural calamities.

She cited as example the role of Miriam Coronel-Ferrer in helping craft a final peace pact with the MILF, as chairperson of the government’s negotiating panel. The MILF’s panel also has women who are also involved in the on-going peace talks, she said.

A big bulk of evacuees that relocate to evacuation sites when the province was rocked by conflicts in previous years were women and children.

“Since we have peace time now, it should also be a time for women,” Deles said in a message.

The symbolic launching of the women’s center was also highlighted with the distribution of vegetable seeds, organic fertilizers, and gardening tools by Deles and Mangudadatu to Moro widows from across the province.

The dispersal of the gardening inputs was initiated by Lea Sagan, the provincial in charge for OPAPP’s projects in the province, and Mangudadatu’s liaison to the office of Deles.

Sagan said they have lined up more projects for women, children and elderly folks in the province in support of OPAPP’s peace and development efforts, which they plan to launch in the coming weeks.