Pia urges equal opportunities for women

Women should be given equal opportunities in leadership and decision making, including in the military establishment.

This was underscored by Senator Pia S. Cayetano in her interpellation of the proposed budget of the Department of National Defense (DND), held around midnight of Friday (November 11).

Opening her interpellation, Cayetano inquired whether the women military officers who were seated in the session hall audience gallery were part of the DND leadership at the VIP gallery assisting the defense budget’s sponsor, Senator Ronald Bato Dela Rosa.

“Mr President, I direct my question to the Chairman [Sen Dela Rosa]. I suppose the people beside you, except for the women here, and behind here [referring to women officers seated in the gallery], are all part of the leadership of DND, correct? Is there any woman in the leadership group?” she asked.

To which the sponsor, Senator Dela Rosa, replied that it is the protocol of the military estabishment to to take care of women, and to not place them at the ‘frontline.’

“That is a gentlemanly answer. Pero that can be a form of discrimination because, [in] your desire to protect [women], you may not be giving them the opportunities to advance in their career to prove themselves. I do not put any malice there, I believe you,” Cayetano said.

“I will share with you the same comments I make when I talk to a governor or a mayor, and I ask about gender equality and women representation in their political parties, and they say to me, ‘ay ito ma’am, may isa kaming babae.’ [But] we are not talking about one – we’re talking about serious representation,” she stressed.

In response, Dela Rosa noted that the military’s chief nurse and surgeon-general are both women one-star generals. He also shared that female cadets now comprise 25 percent in the Philppine Military Academy (PMA).

“And maybe starting next year or the following year, you will see more female officers holding sensitive positions. Dahil yung mga female graduate na babae are already full colonels. And so they will be holding command positions, like brigade commander. We have battalion commanders who are female,” Dela Rosa explained.

Cayetano acknowledged the information shared by Dela Rosa: With the background you gave me, I am quite confident. And to emphasize my point, that is Sustainable Development Goal 5. Target 5.5 states that we ‘ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunity for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life.'”

“The [military service] used to be a man’s world, but it’s a world where we know we will do better if women have equal representation,” she concluded. #

Update on the case of OFW Jovelyn Tang Andres

Mr President, this is just a brief manifestation in response to the request of our colleague, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, for assistance for the family of our Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), Jovelyn Andres, of Sarangani province.

You will recall, I delivered a privilege speech on the PPEs. But Sen. Risa brought to our attention a matter, which was very painful to hear. And we committed, along with the Majority Floor Leader, that we would look into it immediately. So, that same day, your honor, we got in touch with the relatives of Jovelyn Tang Andres, and we were informed that they found out that Jovelyn died through a Facebook post on March 27 pa, your honor, like 6 months ago.

And then they went to DFA GenSan on March 29, so a day and a half perhaps, after they found out, to inquire about this because they just saw it on Facebook, and then they were informed that they could have an autopsy done but it would take 6 months for the body to return.

They opted to have the autopsy done in Saudi Arabia. They were told that if there was no autopsy to be done, the body could be brought back to the Philippines within 2 days, but they opted for an autopsy to be done.

However, they never got the autopsy report. So eventually, they decided to bring the body of Jovelyn – the remains of Jovelyn – home and she was transported back home on September 18, which was soon after the delivery of the information by our colleague, Sen. Risa, to us.

They called OWWA on Sept. 18 to ask for help, OWWA provided P125,000 as insurance, that Jovelyn is entitled to, and OWWA would shoulder the cost of repatriation. They have shouldered.

We then intervened and called the Sarangani Provincial Police asking for an autopsy to be conducted. We were informed that there is only one medico legal per province, who was on study leave. But we were able to connect with Police Major Norman Castro, OIC RFU-12 Sarangani Provincial Forensic Unit and he was the one who arranged for the autopsy and provided the necessary assistance.

So on Friday, the family confirmed that they will push through with this autopsy initiated by Police Major Castro. I am not sure if I mentioned that OWWA would shoulder the cost of the autopsy.

I want to take this opportunity, your honor, to thank, on behalf of the Senate, Mayor Salway Sumbo, who provided the car and gasoline for the travel of the doctor who conducted the autopsy, Police Major Norman Castro, OIC RFU-12 Sarangani Provincial Forensic Unit, Police Major Sergeant Richard Tindaan, Police Staff Sergeant Abdul Ampac, Police Corporal Jai Candelon, Patrol Jona Liedo, and Patrol Ramil Gomez. Sila po ang mga tumulong, and Police Lieutenant Colonel Maria Analiza Dela Cruz, the medico legal officer of regional forensic unit of Region 11.

Thank you, Sen Risa for bringing this matter to our attention. I felt it… The Senate, and there were quite a few senators who were very concerned about this. I am happy to report that kahit paano, in our own small way, nakatulong po tayo. I’ve also brought this to the attention of Sec. Ople and actually, she had coordinated earlier with OWWA so I suppose some of this information had already been shared by the government offices.

Yun lang po, Mr. President, maraming salamat. #

In a manifestation, Senator Pia Cayetano gave an update on the autopsy done last Friday (September 23) on the remains of OFW Jovelyn Tang Andres, a victim of abuse in Saudi Arabia.

Recognizing women in sports

Senator Pia sponsors resolution honoring boxing trainer Donaire

By Senate PRIB

The Senate on Wednesday adopted a resolution honoring Rachel Marcial Donaire for being the first woman and Filipina to receive the honorary World Boxing Council (WBC) Trainer’s Belt.

Senator Pia Cayetano, sponsor of the measure, said Marcial Donaire is the woman behind the defensive strategies of renowned Filipino boxer Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr., who is a four-division conqueror and a three-time bantamweight champion.

“This placed Rachel Donaire in an unprecedented position as she became the first ever woman head trainer to coach a world champion,” Cayetano said, adding that the WBC Trainer’s Belt is given to boxing coaches and trainers who are recognized for their valuable work alongside legendary boxing champions.

Proposed Senate Resolution No. 983 honors Rachel Donaire as “a leading example of a strong Filipina, as she inspires fellow women by her ability to efficiently juggle her roles as a mother, wife, manager, strength and conditioning coach, and now as Nonito Donaire’s head coach.”

Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri expressed support for the measure, saying “we should have more women in all sectors not only as fighters or as the athletes themselves, but as educators, trainers or sports specialists.”

Following his victory last May 2021 for the WBC World Bantamweight Title against French boxer Nordine Oubaali in Carson, California, Nonito Donaire paid tribute to his wife and trainer, Rachel Donaire, whom he described as “the voice in the corner,” being the only one he could hear during the night of the championship.

“I am proud and honored to sponsor this measure commending and congratulating Rachel Donaire for forging her own path, a path ‘til now was untrodden by women,” Cayetano said.

Pia Cayetano
Senator Pia Cayetano sponsors a resolution commending Rachel Donaire for forging her own path in the male-dominated world of boxing. Rachel, the wife and trainer of world boxing champion Nonito Donaire, Jr., is the first woman to receive the honorary World Boxing Council (WBC) Trainer’s Belt.

Pia seeks targeted subsidies for home and micro businesses

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for targeted subsidies to help families and individuals who would like to start or expand their home-based and micro businesses as a means of livelihood to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senator raised the concept of subsidies targeted specifically for women and small  entrepreneurs during the Senate finance committee hearing on the proposed 2022 budget of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

She noted that women’s work at home and their contribution to the economy have long been recognized as “unpaid work.”  This situation has become even more pronounced as women who previously may have had part-time or full-time work outside the home have either lost their jobs, or been forced to stay home because of the pandemic.

“Many mothers have had to stay home to become ‘full time’ teachers to their children who are studying from home. Even older sisters and young women with nieces and nephews are tasked to look after the younger children in the household instead of working outside the home,” she pointed out.

“The good news is, the entrepreneurial spirit of Filipinos finds a way to shine.” She expressed delight in  seeing  home-based and online businesses  flourishing in the last two years, ranging from food products to clothing, accessories, and services.

“I am sure everyone [in this hearing]  has  a daughter or ‘pamangkin’  or knows of a teen or young adult who has started a business at home during the pandemic. All of us have exchanged these goodies that we bought from these (budding) entrepreneurs who are making all these brownies, cupcakes, everything,” said the senator.

These opportunities are not available to all, however. The senator cited the situation of young women from lower income families who have entrepreneurial skills, but lack access to seed or startup capital.

“Girls that come from the middle or upper economic classes have easier access to capital and have the opportunity to start a business. But those from the lower income group don’t have that kind of access,” noted Cayetano, who is also the principal author of the Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act 9710), the landmark law passed in 2009 advancing the rights and welfare of Filipino women.

“They should have access to capital. So that’s where Secretary Karl, I’d like you to consider this like a targeted and proactive stimulus package,” she told NEDA Secretary Karl Chua, who attended the online hearing.

Giving direct assistance to women-led micro and small businesses is practiced in many developing countries and forms part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 5 or Gender Equality, according to the senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on the SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. #

Senator Pia Cayetano
We should help Filipino entrepreneurship rise from this pandemic. – Senator Pia S. Cayetano

Transcript of media interview (July 31, 2019)

Reporter: Ma’am, ‘Yung una po muna, hingi lang pong reaction dun sa biro ng Pangulo kahapon na, “When will your dynasty end?” 

Sen. Pia: Yeah, so first of all, biro nga ‘yun, ‘diba? So biro ‘yun, so if you ask me, biro. So I’ll leave it at that, kasi there are more important issues there. And that’s the TESDA App that was just launched [in Taguig City], which I feel is so interesting. And I think we should draw attention to what the important issues are, not a joke. 

But on that note, that is also something that I’m always willing to talk about. Kasi when you talk about dynasty, I always ask, let’s talk about governance. And I think with all due humility, the President’s high regard for our family, for my brother, is evident in no less than his being his endorsed Speaker. 

So, we’re so proud… I call on everyone to judge the new Speaker on the work that he will do. I’m so excited to be back in the Senate. I’m so excited for the work that I have to do as the new Chair of the Committee of Ways and Means and Chair also of the Committee on Sustainable Development. 

So, we want to be judged on the work that we do. That’s an open book, and we want to really do the kind of job that will make the Filipinos proud that they elected us. Let’s make it clear, we were elected. 

Reporter: Ma’am, does it also mean that you as part of the Senate or Congress will not support the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill? 

Sen. Pia: No. I’ve always said and you can always just refer to my statements on this. I always have an open mind on any issue that is brought on the floor. That has always been the position I’ve taken. 

I may have biases, so when you look… I did a quick scan on the political dynasty bills, and there are different definitions of political dynasty. So… it’s my job to have an open mind and to look at it. 

Reporter: ‘Yung Dissolution of Marriage Bill niyo po, can you explain lang, divorce po ba ito? Ano po ang mga magiging changes nito compared sa annulment?

Sen. Pia: That’s a very good question. And I think ang question niyo should be directed at those people who do not like the term “divorce.” You should ask them what they mean by dissolution of marriage versus divorce because I do not know.

I humbly have to say that I do not know what the difference is, but as one of the authors of the bill in the House of Representatives, I believe it was entitled, “Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage” precisely to address the discomfort that some had with the term, “divorce.”

But if may difference ‘yun, the title is there… But ako naman, as the author here also in the Senate, happy naman ako to listen to any and all concerns. I’m just happy that it’s being discussed.

For the record, there are three kinds of bills that were filed in the House. And I’ve refiled so far two of them – the Absolute Divorce or Dissolution [of Marriage], that’s one. And then the other one is the Foreign Divorce, which is actually already an existing form of divorce, actually the only form of divorce recognized in our Family Code. 

We just fine-tuned some details, which we were told for the last almost decade na it becomes a stumbling block for making that provision in the existing Family Code easy to use. It’s become very cumbersome for people to use because of lack of clarity. So ‘yun lang ‘yung sa Foreign Divorce.

Reporter: Ma’am, sa dissolution of marriage, paano siya naiba sa annulment, ma’am?

Sen. Pia: If you look at Article 36 on Annulment, the only ground there is the psychological incapacity. That is the existing ground that we have under our Family Code. So the grounds for divorce that I filed, there are more grounds. Some of them are similar to the grounds for legal separation. So that’s the easiest way.

You know what, I’d be very happy to have a forum on this and to answer more questions, kasi well it’s something that I’ve really worked on and I really believe in, so I’m happy to answer questions para walang… para people would understand, parang FAQs. 

Reporter: Why do you think is it time for the Philippines to legalize divorce?

Sen. Pia: My answer to that is based on scientific evidence. We went to three countries, [for consultations held by] the House of Representatives, where we had a lot of kababayans. 

I would say it’s partly because of that one bill, that is on the Foreign Divorce, because we have so many kababayans who are married to foreigners. But we also realized that so many of our kababayans are married to Filipinos and therefore, their need would be a regular divorce or dissolution of marriage. 

And so we went to Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Japan, and we had hearings in the House and I have met with so many groups espousing divorce, and the stories are so sad. I hear one story, I think, “Wow, this is the worst,” and then I hear another story, it’s about mostly women – but of course it applies to both – women who after their husbands have left them, beaten them up, had another family, had other wives, they’re still supporting that man. Because under the law, they are required to support the man. 

And even – in this particular story – even her grown children were saying, “Nay, iwanan mo na si Tatay.” Eh pero she feels that she has a legal obligation, a moral obligation, until ma-divorce ‘yun. Baka sabihin niyo, ba’t hindi annulment? Eh kasi sa annulment, some of them don’t want to avail of it, because wala naman daw silang psychological incapacity to fulfill their obligations. Pinaninindigan nila na hindi sila pasok doon. 

You can… As soon as we start discussing this, I know that my Facebook will be flooded with questions on divorce. Kahit anong topic ang pag-usapan, laging meron pa ring bumabalik sa divorce. And all over the country, during the campaign, I was asked repeatedly about it…

Reporter: Have you looked at the chances here in the Senate?

Sen. Pia: I haven’t really bothered. As you know nga, the committees that I will be chairing this Congress are new to me. So, dun ako naka-focus. I haven’t really had time. It’s just that I’ve also read what you’ve read na most people tend to be open-minded because they’ve also heard stories of people they know, people who come to them. So I’d like to believe, I’d like to hope that people would have an open mind. 

And what I always reiterate, for those who are against it, you don’t have to avail of it. For those who are against it, in your own church, in your own religious organization, you can continue to believe what you want to believe. That is your supreme right. And never ko po aapakan or never ko… Wala ho akong karapatan na kwestyunin ang paniniwala ng mga tao when it comes to spiritual and religious reasons. 

But when it comes to legal, it is my obligation to have an open mind and pass laws that will be applicable to all Filipinos who want to avail of it. Kasi remember, this is a kind of law that is not mandatory, this is a kind of law people can avail of. ‘Yun ‘yun eh, may difference ‘yun. 

Reporter: So parang it’s a privilege?

Sen. Pia: Let’s say it’s an option. Baka mamaya may legal implication pa ‘yung privilege. It’s an option. 

Reporter: Sorry ma’am, additional grounds, irreconcilable differences, ano pa ‘yung mga possible grounds?

Sen. Pia: Give me time na balikan ko ‘yun, kasi ganun ako eh. Move on na ako sa ibang bills after napasa ‘yun sa House. I was hoping napasa na ‘yun sa [17th] Congress. Let me just go back to it and then I’ll discuss it further.

Reporter: Last na po, aside from the grounds, what else are the advantages of divorce over annulment? Kasi sabi nila may annulment na nga bakit pa may divorce?

Sen. Pia: Ah hindi. Kasi if you look at our provision on Annulment, any law student can tell you, we have one article on it. That’s it. One article – Article 36. There’s actually no provisions on support, they just use by analogy other provisions on support. There are no provisions on the procedure, so the bill that we filed, the bill that is the product of the House… 

I’ll reiterate ‘House,’ kasi I was in the House of Representatives, lagay niyo na lang ‘yun as background, baka malito ang ibang tao na what I’m talking about na bill na na-hear, that was while I was in the House. This is a product of lengthy discussions and so there’s a lot more details in it, including support, including what is known in other countries as alimony, napag-usapan din ‘yun kasi issue ‘yun. Some believe na in other countries, dahil sa walang forever, pero ‘yung support may forever. So mabigat daw, mabigat. 

So we had long discussions about that, and we tried to look for middle ground na there would be, if I remember right, please let’s confirm it lang, three years of support for the spouse who was dependent on the working spouse. Kasi ‘yung objective nga is mag-move on ka na, try to get gainfully employed also, give that person enough time to also gainfully…

But I wanna have an open mind about it if kailangan longer, kasi the objective din naman is to not abandon the spouse who dedicated their life to being a homemaker, whether it’s a man or a woman, it applies both ways.

But kaya ko rin naisip na hindi rin tama na ‘yung forever kasi paano kung ‘yung breadwinner, katulad ng mga na-meet ko na OFW? Tapos 20 years na siyang nagtatrabaho dun, sinusuportahan niya ang asawa niya, and then worst case, ‘yung asawa niya na nambabae na nagkaanak na sa iba, baka siya pa magbibigay ng support forever because siya ang technically working, you know what I mean? 

So you have to weigh these things. Sasabihin, yeah, pero si mister naman sa bahay ‘yung nag-aalaga ng mga anak, pero nangaliwa din siya. So iba-balance mo rin lahat ‘yun eh. So, I can’t pretend that there’s a simple, easy, hundred percent fair, but we have to do our best.

Reporter: ‘Yung finile niyo po, that was the same bill that was passed in the House last [17th] Congress?

Sen. Pia: Yes, but I’m very open pa to even making my own amendments to it.

Reporter: So kung ano ang pumasa sa House, ‘yun ang ni-refile niyo?

Sen. Pia: Oo, kasi you have to remember, that was a product of members of the House. Eh nandito na ako [Senate, 18th Congress], so kapag nandito naman ako, minsan naman nagkakaroon din ako ng bagong ideas, and then syempre… Ano naman ‘yun, kumbaga free for all ulit.

[Inaudible question]

Sen. Pia: Ay tapos na siya, pasado siya [by the House in the 17th Congress]. Oo, walang nangyari dito [sa Senate in the 17th Congress].

[Inaudible question]

Sen. Pia: That’s a good question, I have to say that it’s kinda my observation also, I don’t know kung may survey talaga. But it’s kinda my observation pagka ganun, ‘yung mga babae, “Yes!” Ta’s ‘yung mga lalaki, “‘Wag na ‘yan…”

Reporter: Pero do you find it a relief na ‘yung mga [inaudible – senators] most of them at least open to discussion?

Sen. Pia: Ganito, sa dami ng trabaho ko, kasi nga ‘yung mga bagong committees ko, and again, I have to emphasize ‘yung Committee on Sustainable Development, andaming sakop nun, syempre happy ako kung kahit anong bill na sinusulong ko maraming support, dahil mababawasan din ‘yung trabaho ko dahil wala na ako masyadong kukumbinsihin. So I’m always happy naman na open-minded, or may support, or willing to discuss, I’m always happy. Thank you!# 

Senator Pia Cayetano answers questions from the Senate media.