The Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus (MPC), a tri-people organization and a member of the Civilian Protection Component (CPC) of Malaysia-led International Monitoring Team (IMT), launched its all-women contingent for CPC in Aleosan, North Cotabato on October 5, 2010. Thirty women took their oath of office as members of the MPC-CPC of the IMT administered by Governor Emmylou Talino-Mendoza.
Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) who witnessed the launching together with Brig. Gen. Datuk Baharom Bin Hamza, head of the International Monitoring Team, and local officials said that it is historic to see women “move to the front and center of the peace process.” She said that women are “brave and their courage has no limits” and showed her appreciation to the MPC for accepting the challenge to engage in peacekeeping.
The deployment of an all-women peacekeeping force, said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles in her keynote address, is “most likely the first we ever had in our history of waging peace in the country.”
MPC secretary-general Atty. Mary Ann Arnado said one of the requirements to become part of the women contingent is their active involvement in peace advocacy in their respective communities.
“We note with great interest that the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the CPC under Article I (8) has adopted United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 1325 and Resolution 1820 as part of its references. We consider this a breakthrough in our advocacy effort to institutionalize UNSC 1325 and a golden opportunity to promote the meaningful participation of women in peace and security processes, particularly in the areas of civilian protection, human rights and relief and rehabilitation efforts,” said Arnado.
Aleosan town in North Cotabato was the site of the August 11, 2008 wars that displaced hundreds of thousands of villagers from the province and nearby towns in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.
Secretary General of MPC, Atty. Mary Ann Arnado, said the deployment of the all-women contingent is their way of “operationalizing” the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 which acknowledges the importance of the participation of women and the inclusion of gender perspectives in peace negotiations, peacekeeping operations, and post-conflict peace-building.
The CPC of the IMT is contained in an agreement signed October 27, 2009 by the government and Moro National Liberation Front (MILF). The government and MILF peace panels agreed on the membership of four organizations: MPC, Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (MinHRAC), Moslem Organization of Government Officials and Professionals, Inc. (Mogop) and the Non-Violent Peace Force.
MPC has been assigned to five field sites: in Aleosan, North Cotabato; Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte; Sarangani; Sultan Kudarat and Davao. MinHRAC has been assigned the field sites in Maguindanao and North Cotabato, as well as Zamboanga, Basilan and Sulu.