MANILA, Philippines – Former anti-poverty commission secretary Liza Maza said it was her hope in the peace talks that kept her from resigning at the height of outrage over drug war killings and President Rodrigo Duterte's misognynistic remarks about women.
"One of the primary reasons why I accepted was because of the peace negotiations and there were also very real breakthrough agreements that were forged between the two parties," she said on Tuesday, August 21, in an interview with Rappler.
Just the day before, she had submitted her resignation to Malacañang.
Maza insisted that she had been against the extrajudicial killings being linked to the campaign against illegal drugs. She, and even the other female Cabinet members, also disapproved of Duterte's way of speaking about women.
"I don't agree with the extrajudicial killings also, with the statements the President uttered which were very anti-women. I have always been against this," she said.
Opposition to the summary killings and his behavior towards women are advocacies many in the Left have embraced.
Asked whether she ever brought up her concerns to Duterte, she only said she and other women in the Cabinet would talk among themselves.
"With other women in the Cabinet, yes, we would talk to each other. The Commission on Women, they are also very concerned and pinapaabot din ang aming concerns diyan (we also relayed their concerns)," said Maza.
Pressed further if she ever tried speaking with Duterte directly, she said she was unable to because Duterte was busy attending to the Marawi crisis come May 2017.
"Na-busy na rin si Presidente sa Marawi, hindi na ako nagka direct contact with him (He got busy with Marawi so I lost direct contact with him)," she said.
In the same interview, Maza revealed that Malacañang stopped inviting her to Cabinet meetings starting September 2017.
Still, she asserts: "Hindi naman ako tumatahimik o hindi ko naman tinatago ang posisyon ko, lalo na sa kababaihan (I was never silent or I never hid my position, especially when it comes to women.)
Maza, however, never issued any statement critical of Duterte's statements on women or the campaign against illegal drugs during her time as NAPC chief.
Back when she was still allowed to participate in Cabinet meetings, Maza said she was vocal about economic policies being championed by Duterte's economic managers.
She had spoken in particular against the tax reform package and expressed support for a higher Social Security System pension hike. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.