DAVAO CITY—Women from various fields and interests have declared their support for the presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, his camp said Sunday.
Around 300 women leaders gathered in Davao City Saturday to launch ForwarRD Women or Forum of Women for Action with Rody Duterte, a loose movement of women with members who are lawyers, educators, activists, children and women’s rights advocates, and non-government organization workers.
Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said the Mindanao-wide assembly was aimed at discussing and drafting a women’s agenda and then to present them to Duterte.
“But first, we must be able to collectively discuss our situation and issues for us to develop an agenda, and we shall challenge our candidate [presidential] to act on this,” Ilagan said.
Ilagan, the Gabriela Party-list Representative, also emphasized the vital role that women will play in the upcoming national elections.
“Women are half of the population and could effectively swing the votes,” she said.
Duterte, who attended the gathering, received the women’s agenda and said: “This is easy. I just need money to do these.”
The issues presented were the women’s limited access to education, unemployment, lack of health services at the village level and the review of the government’s Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program or dole to the poor, a poverty alleviation strategy that women’s groups say has proved to be lopsided and restrictive, pushing Filipino women further to the brink.
“I assure you that if given the chance to sit in Malacañang, I will stop corruption, get all the resources needed so that the needs of our women will be addressed,” Duterte said.
Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is running for mayor in Davao, was also in attendance. She expressed confidence that her father would give priority to women’s issues once elected.
Some of the participants traveled all the way from Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, and the Caraga Region to attend the launching at the Garden Oasis in Davao.
“My top priority will always be education, agriculture and health, Duterte said.
“I will decrease the budget for infrastructure and other items.”
A resource speaker, professor Mildred Megabio-Estanda, said the Ateneo de Davao University-sponsored survey in October 2015 showed that Davaoeños preferred a president who was gender-sensitive.
The Saturday gathering was aimed at developing a national women’s agenda that will be adopted by Duterte once he is elected president.
“The women in Mindanao, while recognizing these trailblazing efforts of the City of Davao, believe that these things should not only be replicated nationally, but these programs and legislations should be enhanced and supplemented with more programs and policies,” the women said in a statement.