MANILA, Philippines – One of President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointees for the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law resigned on Monday, May 29, due to the President’s remarks about soldiers raping women and his martial law declaration in Mindanao.
Rappler sources confirmed that Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) member Samira Gutoc-Tomawis manifested her resignation during the meeting between government officials and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders on Monday.
She told both government peace panel chairperson Irene Santiago and MILF peace panel chairperson Mohagher Iqbal about her decision to resign “for personal reasons.”
Gutoc-Tomawis is a resident of Marawi City, ground zero of clashes between government forces and the Maute Group. She is a former journalist and activist.
Informed sources said what prompted her to resign was Duterte’s joke last Saturday, May 27, in Sulu that he would take the blame for soldiers who commit rape while martial law is in effect.
“Ako na magpakulong sa inyo. ‘Pag naka-rape ka ng 3, aminin ko na akin ‘yun (I’ll take your place in prison. If you rape 3, I’ll take the blame),” said the President, amid concerns there would be human rights abuses during the implementation of martial law in Mindanao.
Another reason she resigned was the martial law declaration itself and the situation in Marawi City from where thousands of residents have had to flee from clashes between government forces and Maute terrorists.
Gutoc-Tomawis is currently helping in evacuation operations of fellow Marawi residents.
The BTC is a 21-member body tasked by Duterte with drafting the BBL which he hopes will be passed within his term. Officials involved in the Bangsamoro peace process expressed confidence on Monday that the draft would be completed by June.
Peace in Mindanao, either through the passage of the BBL or through federalism, is among the major promises of Duterte, the first Philippine President who hails from the southern island region. – Rappler.com