Duterte presidency to have more women leaders

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Expect presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte to appoint more women in high-level government positions.

His spokesperson, Peter Laviña, made the assurance during a media briefing at the Duterte national campaign headquarters in this city on Thursday, May 12.

With Laviña was Senator Pia Cayetano, who has been tasked to advise Duterte's transition committee "in view of the fact that we want to identify, vet and select more women leaders to join government."

"This is not a response to criticism that the mayor is anti-women. In Davao City, you will note, the mayor has appointed many women leaders in the city government," said Laviña. 

Irene Santiago, chair emerita and chief executive officer of the Mindanao Commission on Women, confirmed this in an interview with Rappler on Wednesday, May 11.

"In Davao, it's almost all women. His chief of staff is a woman, more than half of the city councilors are women. So he's very comfortable having women in positions of leadership," said Santiago, a former member of the government peace panel in talks with rebels in Muslim Mindanao. 

Cayetano is the sister of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, Duterte's running mate. She is known as an advocate for women's rights who also championed the Reproductive Health Law.  

Cayetano is also the newly-elected Taguig Second District represenative.

Duterte has been criticized about his numerous remarks about women, the most controversial of which was his joke on the rape-slay of Australian lay missionary Jacqualine Hamill.

Cayetano earlier told Rappler that she does not condone Duterte's remarks about rape, but she understands where he is coming from.

On Thursday, Cayetano said she is "very excited" to give her contribution in ensuring that Duterte's administration will be "gender-balanced."

"What I want to ensure is that as early as the selection process, the names of these candidates are given. It's important that we have a gender-balanced leadership, the voice of women are heard, and the concerns of women are addressed at the highest level because it will flow," she told members of the media.

'Gender-sensitive' admin 

According to Cayetano, her experience as a 3-term senator who had chaired various committees led her to meet many undersecretaries and directors of different government agencies. 

"There is talent there," she said. 

Cayetano said the positions for women she will be recommending to the transition committee will not be limited to a particular cluster. 

"Women traditionally are perceived as being active in the social concerns, and that is true. But many women are qualified for any positions and I know for a fact that the door is open for all women in this administration," said Cayetano.

She added that the transition team's goal is to appoint Cabinet members and high-level officials whk are "gender-sensitive" whether they are male or female.

"They ran their department in a manner that is conducive to the growth of women within the departments, addressing the concerns of women for that particular sector so it does not matter. It should not matter because at the ned of the day, collectively, we will  have a gender-sensitive administraiton," she said.

As of press time, the transition team is yet to release the names of people in their shortlist already, though they are targetting to finalize all appointments by Duterte's inauguration on June 30.

"We cannot announce until Mayor Duterte has been officially announced [as president] by the Board of Canvassers," said Laviña. 

Duterte himself, however, has already bared initial details about his wish list Cabinet.

During the last presidential debate, Duterte had said that he would likely appoint a woman to head the Department of Tourism. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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