Philippine Country Statement by Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles during the High-Level Review on the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - 01:45


During the High-Level Review on the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security

By Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

13 October 2015


     History has not been remiss in reminding us about the scars and wounds of war deeply etched in humanity’s soul, with its trail of blood always leading to a grieving woman’s doorstep and a weeping child’s nightmare.  Indeed, the time has come for all governments to make sure that women are given a greater role in preventing armed conflict or, once it has broken out, in resolving it and ensuring its enduring and inclusive peace dividends.

     In the Philippines, we are now striving to do our best to accomplish both. Our endeavour draws its context from long decades of internal armed conflict involving various armed fronts, with our current peace agenda engaging five peace tables.  

     The signing by the Philippine Government of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on March 27, 2014, is historic not only because it signalled the end of a long-standing war in Southern Philippines but also because it is the first agreement of its kind in the world to bear the signature of a total of three women, which accounts for one-half of the negotiating panel of the Government and about one-fourth of the total number of its signatories.  It is the first such agreement to bear the signature of a woman as Chief Negotiator – Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer.  In addition, 69% of the Secretariat of the government Panel, including its head, and 60% of the legal team, including its head, are women, under the age of 35 and 30 respectively.

     This table expressly committed to enforce the “Right of women to meaningful political participation, and protection from all forms of violence” in its source document, the Framework Agreement; and yielded concrete gender-sensitive provisions in its four annexes, as well as in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law now pending in Congress.  Today, women representatives in Congress are among the staunchest champions of the proposed law while, on the side of the executive branch, a woman co-chairs the Joint Normalization Committee which oversees the multiple security, transitional justice, and socio-economic interventions, which seek to ensure that peace will endure not only in the law but on the ground.

     In 2010, the Philippine government adopted its National Action Plan, or the NAP, on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), becoming the first country in Asia to adopt a national policy pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820.  Initiated by civil society advocates, the Philippine NAP rests on four pillars, consisting of two targeted outputs – briefly identified as (1) Protection and Prevention, and (2) Empowerment and Participation; and two cross-cutting support processes – namely, (1) Promotion and Mainstreaming, and (2) Monitoring and Evaluation.

     The story of the Philippine NAP may best be told through the metaphor of weaving – more specifically, mat-weaving which is common to Asian countries.  Just as weaving is not learned overnight but goes back to generations, the Philippine NAP benefits from decades of consciousness-raising and organizing of women, peace and human rights advocates.  The Philippine NAP thus collapses time.  

     But, like a good mat that pulls all the fiber strands tightly together, it also collapses space.  Building on civil society energies, wisdom, and experience, it wagers on the government and its instrumentalities – in a word, the bureaucracy – to be the bearers of gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

     Today, the Philippine NAP is anchored and provided legal basis by Philippine law, led by the Magna Carta of Women and recent national legislation adopting human rights and international humanitarian standards. As well, we heed an earlier law that requires all government agencies and local government units to allocate at least 5% of their budget as a dedicated gender and development (GAD) fund, thus ensuring available funds for immediate start-up and mobilization needs.

     It is not left to one agency to implement the NAP but instead strands of the government bureaucracy are woven in with the establishment of a National Steering Committee, initially composed of the heads of nine government agencies to which eight more agencies were added which are involved in implementing the government’s PAMANA program.  PAMANA delivers development and good governance programs and services in conflict-affected areas.  Altogether PAMANA operates in 46, or more than half, of our 82 provinces. 

     From the start, we did not want the NAP to end up as another document which may be good to read and display on the bookshelf but nowhere used and practiced.   In the same way that mats have a history of long, hard, and sometimes rough use in Philippine households, we intend the NAP to be a felt presence – making a difference – in women’s lives. 

     Implementation of the Philippine NAP is a painstaking process because we want to cover all bases: policy, planning, implementation and monitoring mechanisms, and budget.  Modest initial results are now being reported.  Among the outcomes already being gleaned are the strengthened presence of women in peace negotiations and the implementation of peace accords; the establishment of “women-friendly spaces” to ensure the needed measure of private and safe space for internally displaced women and girls in evacuation centers; the adoption of explicit gender equality policies and mechanisms as an integral part of the governance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; culture-sensitive trauma healing programs for Muslim women; the inclusion of WPS issues in the training of our foreign service officers; the plan to establish a dedicated team of public prosecutors for cases of sexual and gender-based violence in situations of armed conflict.   

     As well, local government units in conflict-affected areas have been capacitated to issue their local versions of the NAP with major funding support from their own resources.  And, just two weeks ago, we launched the first Government Executive Course on Women, Peace and Security, in partnership with a leading national university.   

     The past five years have enabled us to weave a meticulous overlay of legal frameworks, implementing structures, institutional mandates, and, of course, always of personal passions and inclusive and inter-generational intentions.  We must ensure that the NAP we have begun to weave will endure the forthcoming transition to a new administration in 2016.  Its strands, emanating from strategic programs of national and local implementing agencies, must be strengthened and enhanced in both protecting and empowering women toward bringing all Philippine internal armed conflicts to a peaceful, just, and lasting end.  

     The NAP should be useful, it should be durable, it should make a difference you can feel on your skin.  We join the urgent call for all UN member-states to adopt a National Action Plan and weave it tightly and strongly to truly make a felt difference in the lives of women and children caught in the middle of today’s most violent conflicts.