THE camp of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte vowed Thursday to have a “gender-balanced” leadership, citing the importance of women’s participation in his administration.
His spokesman, Peter Laviña, said in a televised news conference the transition team has tapped Sen. Pia Cayetano to help advise Duterte’s selection committee on the members of his Cabinet.
Laviña said they sought Cayetano, sister to Duterte’s running mate Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, as an adviser because “we want to identify, vet and select more women leaders to join the government.”
“This is not in response to criticism that the mayor is anti-women. In Davao City, you will note, the mayor has appointed many women leaders in the city government,” he added.
Cayetano, who joined Laviña at the news conference, said the Duterte administration would form gender-sensitive Cabinet, stressing the importance of ensuring that the concerns of women reach the top officials of the Executive branch.
“I want to assure the public that we will do everything to make sure that the best women are selected for these positions,” she added.
The outgoing senator, who was elected as Taguig representative, is known as an advocate for women’s rights.
Duterte has been criticized for his numerous remarks about women, the most controversial of which was his joke on the rape-slay of an Australian lay missionary who died inside a Davao jail during a riot in 1989.
However, he has also earned points for condemning discrimination against the LGBT community.
During his two-decade rule in Davao City, Duterte codified a gender development system that was cited by the national government.
He is also credited for assembling a team of lawyers to assist women in domestic-violence cases and paying for legal fees from his own pocket. CATHERINE S. VALENTE