PGMA to sign Magna Carta of Women

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is scheduled to sign on August 14 the Magna Carta of Women, which will give due recognition to the social, economic, and political rights of Filipino women.

The signing in Malacañang will be witnessed by members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, women leaders from NGOs at the national and local levels, members of the local government and Gender and Development (GAD) councils, and officials of national government agencies who have tirelessly worked for the passage of the bill.

Myrna T. Yao, chairperson of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), said that the Magna Carta of Women is a landmark law because the Philippines will now have a national framework for the implementation of the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), also described as an international bill of rights for women.

Chair Yao said that the MCW seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women by recognizing, protecting, fulfilling and promoting all human rights and fundamental freedoms of Filipino women, particularly those in the marginalized sector.

According to Chair Yao, receiving particular attention in the Magna Carta are the poor and marginalized women, whose particular needs are addressed in provisions providing for special assistance for women in difficult circumstances, greater access to credit and training, scholarships, land rights and economic rights. It also calls for the establishment of a desk in every barangay to receive cases of violence against women.

Another important aspect of the Magna Carta is that it calls for the revision or total repeal of discriminatory provisions in existing laws such as the Revised Penal Code, Family Code and Labor Code.
Discussions on the MCW started in the 12th Congress with a bill on the Magna Carta for Women filed by Rep. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo and the bill providing for the Magna Carta of Women in Rural Development filed by Rep. Josefina Joson, with a counterpart bill filed in the Senate by Sen. Manny Villar.

During the 13th Congress, Rep. Joson filed the first version of the Magna Carta of Women and Sen. Jamby Madrigal, then chair of the Committee on Women, convened a technical working group meeting to discuss the MCW. Meanwhile, Sen. Sergio Osmeña filed the MCW bill in the Senate near the close of the 13th Congress.

In the 14th Congress, five bills were filed at the House by Representatives (HOR) by Reps. Juan Edgardo Angara, Ma. Isabelle Climaco, Lorna Silverio, Marcelino Teodoro, and Mauricio Domogan. The HOR came up with a consolidated refined version of the bills and called it Magna Carta of Women.

The members of the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality, chaired by Representative Nanette Castelo-Daza, underscored their support for the use of Magna Carta of Women rather than Magna Carta for Women in the bill’s title, saying that it is “an empowerment framework and rightfully signifies women as active participants in their own development rather than being mere passive agents.”
In the Senate, the Committee on Youth Women and Family Relations chaired by Senator Jamby Madrigal deliberated on eight bills and came-out with a consolidated version which was passed on third reading on 2 Februrary 2009.

The passage of the bill was fast-tracked when Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo included the Magna Carta of Women in her list of priority bills under the Legislative Executive Development and Advisory Council (LEDAC). Subsequent sessions in both houses followed and led to the passage of the MCW bill in the 14th Congress.