Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Moro Women Finish Seminar On Poll Reforms, Other Issues In Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / August 18, 2009) – More than 20 Moro women leaders from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces in the southern Philippines gathered in Zamboanga City recently for a two-day training that tackled issues on electoral reforms and poll violence.

The paramount sultan of Sulu, Dr Ibrahim Bahjin Shakirulla II, highlighted the opening program with an inspirational talk. Various topics were discussed by different guest and resource speakers.

With the theme “Enhancing Moro Women’s Capacity to Mitigate Electoral Violence,” Merci Angeles, president of the group called Peace Women Partners-Manila, talked on the orientation on women, peace and security, while Professor Aisa Akalal, who is the president of Sinag Kababaihan, gave a situational report about the women in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Professor Akalal said that the seminar was organized by the Sinag Kababaihan in partnership with The Asia Foundation.

“This is a wake up call to all Moro women in Mindanao in general to empower themselves to play their vital role in mitigating electoral violence particularly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” said Professor Akalal.

A survey conducted last year by the Social Weather Station showed that 69% of the respondents agree that “violence during elections is accepted as a way of life in their province.”

SWS President Dr Mahar Mangahas described the finding as “very, very alarming.”

The survey also showed that 61% of the respondents find election-related violence serious in their locality with 20% saying “very serious” and 41% referring to it as “somewhat serious.”

In terms of personal security during election time, 43% of the respondents within the ARMM said they were worried about the situation compared with 33% in areas outside the Muslim autonomous region.

Other speakers during the training were Professor Octavio Dinampo, Irene Santiago, the Chief Executive Officer of the Mindanao Commission on Women; Provincial Vice Governor Hajja Ruby Sahali-Tan of Tawi-Tawi, Dr Samsula Adju, former Chancellor of the Mindanao State University in Sulu province; Professor Fred Concepcion, editor-in-chief of the Sulu provincial newsletter, the Sulu Gazette; and Hajja Babylyn Kano-Omar, the station manager of dxGD-Radio for Peace in the town of Bongao in Tawi-Tawi province.

Participants to the training agreed to actively commit and get involved in the advocacy to mitigate electoral violence in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the 2010 local and national elections. Moro women from Tawi-Tawi have expressed their enthusiasm to host the same training activity in the future. (Amilbahar Mawallil)

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