Commissioner Rowena Guanzon of the Commission on Elections called on Congress and political parties to break the cycle of inequality by providing the means for more women to run for public office.
Guanzon, who was the keynote speaker at the celebration of Provincial Women’s Day at the Capitol in Bacolod City today, March 2, in an interview said “the cycle inequality cannot be broken unless there is a drastic change in the law and allocation of resources.”
The commissioner, at the same time, encouraged women to join politics by organizing from the barangay level and making their presence felt through their contributions to the community.
However, she also said that it has been difficult for many women to mount campaigns because it usually is the men who hold the purse strings.
That is why Congress should pass a law giving state funds to political parties that have a certain percentage of women candidates, she said.
She said all women political parties should also have state funding.
Or political parties by law should allocate 30 percent of their slots to women, because there are many capable of holding public office, Guanzon said.
This is done in other countries and can be done in the Philippines, she said.
She said the call by different groups for Vice President Leni Robredo and Davao Mayor Sara Duterte to run for president just goes to show that there are Filipinas capable of running.
Women must be in all places of decision making and politics is the most powerful avenue for women who want to create change and reforms, Guanzon said.
Guanzon also said the bid of women to run for public office has been hampered by vote-buying. “Vote buying is our number one scourge in elections, because of vote-buying women cannot run because they do not have the money,” Guanzon said.
“Vote buying is bad just like fake news that erodes our democracy. Fake news does not enable our voters to make the informed correct choice of leaders,” Guanzon said.
The Negros Occidental provincial government and the Provincial Council for Women spearheaded the Provincial Women’s Day celebration attended by representatives of women’s groups from various parts of the province.
This year’s National Women’s Month celebration is themed, “Juana Laban sa Pandemya: Kaya!”.
Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, in his message, said the pursuit of gender advancement and advocacy is among the thrusts of his administration.
Lacson cited the existence of the Provincial GAD Focal Points System, the Committee on Decorum and Investigation, the Provincial Committee Against Child-Trafficking- Child Pornography and Violence Against Women and Children, and the Provincial Committee on Migration and Development.
There are also new programs such as the establishment of gender responsive Migrant Resource Center, help desks and services for women migrant workers, and the HerVoice mobile app to help protect women from gender-based violence, he said.
“Gender equality has always been at the core of social justice, true democracy and genuine progress,” he said.
Also present in the activity were Negros Occidental Board Members Araceli Somosa, Rita Gatuslao and Juvy Pepello, Provincial GAD Focal Point System Action Officer Marie June Castro, and PCW officers led by Andrea Si and Mary Ann Colmenares.*