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Magpale to women: Stand up and be counted

It’s been said that attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.

Unflinching in her commitment to advance women and children’s cause, which was like a trifling glow almost three decades ago that has now become a flame, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale wants to keep the fire burning.

After raising the awareness on women empowerment in the 1990s and making gains in the years that follow, Magpale, one of Cebu’s known champions for women’s rights, urged Cebuano women to continue asserting their rights and to let their voice be heard.

“To the women out there, stand up and be counted,” Magpale said as the Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC), which the vice governor is co-chairperson, joined the celebration of the Women’s Month.

“Today, things are a lot better for women. What we want to achieve here is to eliminate discrimination against women completely,” she added.

With domestic violence still a problem today, Magpale encouraged women to speak up and seek the PWC’s help immediately.

“The PWC can provide them protection. We can give them a legal counsel and we have various programs so they can start a new life,” Magpale said.

Magpale’s vast and long experience in addressing problems of human trafficking, women’s welfare and protection of children from cyber pornography of the province, made her one of the most sought-after news sources on the issues.

“Pagsugod nato niini nga kawsa, nagsuroy gyud mi sa tibuok lalawigan nag-awhag mi sa mga local government units nga magbuhat og council alang sa kababayen-an,” she said.

In her first term as a member of the Provincial Board in 1992, Magpale laid down the groundwork to institutionalize the protection of women as she authored the ordinance for the creation of the PWC.

This was followed by two ordinances, such as the Women Development Code and the Children’s Code, both passed in the same year in 2005.

After passing necessary legislations, the PWC and the Provincial Council for the Welfare of Children, joined hands with law enforcement agencies, the Department of Justice and the International Justice Mission as well as non-government organizations in forming the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) to help rescue victims and prosecute suspects.

Last year, the group achieved a break-through case in cyberpornography in Cordova town after a couple was found guilty by the Regional Trial Court in Mandaue City for using their six children for online sex.

Magpale was one of the witnesses of the prosecution.

It was the tip from the PWC to the National Bureau of Investigation that led to the arrest of the suspects on June 1, 2011.

“This is a long-drawn battle,” Magpale quoted saying by a local daily following the conviction.

Another important case pursued by IACAT was the arrest of Liezyl Margallo, an alleged human trafficker, in 2017.

To help rehabilitate the victim, Magpale initiated the construction of a shelter called the Provincial Women and Children Development Center in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, which became in operation in 2017.  (see separate story)

Believing that women are more empowered if they are economically stable, the PWC extended livelihood programs and trainings to various organizations throughout the province.

Another assistance is also extended by the Provincial Government to victims of violence who wish to pursue a college education through the Paglaum Scholarship Program.

The scholarship is open to indigent students, drug surrenderers, persons with disabilities, who are not among the top 10 of the class.

As of today, the PWC has already 1,375 scholars under the Paglaum Scholarship with its budget increased to P20 million this year.

TAGS: Magpale, month, women
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