PEACETALK: Why Alan Peter Cayetano owes Sec. Deles, Prof. Ferrer and all women peacemakers in this country a public apology!

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 March) — I am no big fan of Secretary Deles and Professor Miriam Coronel- Ferrer. As an independent peace advocate representing the tri-people grassroots in Mindanao, I have my own share of debates and differing views with both women peacemakers vis-à-vis salient features on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the transition roadmap itself and the manner with which to proceed with the legislative work in Congress. Yet in the midst of all these ravenous call for blood and the “heads must roll” cry especially from Alan Peter Cayetano, I cannot help but take the cudgel for Prof. Ferrer, Sec. Deles and the intelligent, passionate and hardworking women (and men) in their peace team who deserve every moral, spiritual and emotional support that we can offer at this very critical point in their peacemaking mission.

I take personal offense with the foul images circulating on Facebook portraying meme images of Secretary Deles, Professor Coronel and Chairman Iqbal in highly scandalous and sexually-perverted manner. Whoever did this is a rabid anti-Muslim, anti-peace maniac whose gutter style propaganda deserves the condemnation of all women in this country and all over the world. I hold Alan Peter Cayetano responsible for these scandalous meme images because it was he who resorted to verbal attacks that poisoned the minds of the public against these two women.

I stand in solidarity with Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer who correctly pointed out that what is being done to her is already bordering on sexual harassment. Teresita Quintos-Deles is a grandmother, a peace awardee and a consistent civil society servant with an impeccable track record in public service. Mirriam Coronel- Ferrer is a wife, a mother and a highly educated Political Science Professor of the University of the Philippines-Diliman who responded to the call of the President to represent him as Chief Negotiator in the GPH-MILF Peace Talks. Whatever she is doing and everything she had accomplished Mirriam Coronel-Ferrer did it for and on behalf of the President.

Why is it that all these chauvinistic senators and media can be so cruel on Professor Coronel-Ferrer and yet kind on her principal? Why portray her as a sly, treacherous woman who misled the President by actually working for the enemy? Why single out these two women whom we know are mere agents of the principal, President Aquino himself. Why shoot the messenger? Alan Peter Cayetano, who is the majority floor leader in the Senate and a known ally of the President, obviously does not have the balls to lash out directly to the President so he merely directs his venom against these women. The double-standard is highly obvious. This, for me, is the most classic, glaring example of an anti-woman, chauvinistic mentality that had long been condemned by the civilized world as a thing of the past.

In the spirit of the Women’s Month, I demand that Allan Peter Cayetano as a statesman and as a public servant of this country issue a public apology to Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles and Professor Mirriam Coronel-Ferrer. His venomous and highly irresponsible statement effectively “massacred”, maligned and demonized the good names of these two internationally acclaimed peacemakers whose imprint in history could no longer be erased – these two succeeded in convincing the biggest Islamic revolutionary movement in Asia to sign a peace agreement with our government. How can that be treason? How can that be Stockholm syndrome? How can Allan Peter Cayetano fault these two women for simply doing their jobs? Clearly the forty years of bloodshed and war did not solve the problem. Where the military had failed in bringing peace, these women have succeeded through peaceful negotiations.

As a matter of fact, it should be Allan Peter Cayetano who should resign as a Senator because having two Cayetanos in the Senate is just too much to handle and choosing between the two, I would rather pick on the lesser bully.

Where were these senators when the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed on March 27 last year? They were all clapping, jumping and wagging with joy and congratulating these women for bringing the “lion” right into the halls of Malacanan. There were only high praises, congratulations and claiming the accolades and fame from the international community.

Watching Allan Peter Cayetano the past few weeks made me realize he actually impersonates all the known stereotypes that are unfairly attributed to women. Cayetano is a living proof that, no ladies, we are not bungangera. Cayetano in fact is the most bungangero of them all. He has in fact upstaged Mirriam Defensor-Santiago. He is so loud he hardly hears himself anymore; he does not even realize he is already contradicting his own self. He is the perfect example of the Chinese line “more talk more mistakes”.

No ladies, there is no truth to the stereotype that women have changeable minds. Cayetano is. Can you believe he actually authored SB 2408 or the BBL? Overnight, with what happened in Mamasapano, Cayetano changed his mind and withdrew authorship of the bill. I won’t be surprised if next month, he will sponsor it again and may even vote for it. Cayetano said MILF are terrorists. No, Muslims are terrorists but wait a minute, there are actually more Christians who are terrorists than Muslims? Does he really know what he is talking about? And no, it is not true, women are no-brainer as what Cayetano projects these two women to be. As a matter of fact, he was the one who exposed his own ignorance when he said that Nelson Mandela did not use violence. And there is no truth to the stereotype that women are shallow – we only watch teleseryes and telenovelas. Cayetano is in fact the one who admitted he knows everything about terrorism and Moros because “I’ve watched them all in the movies”.

In the spirit of solidarity, I am calling on all women to demand that Allan Peter Cayetano issue an apology to Secretary Teresita-Quintos Deles and Professor Mirriam Coronel-Ferrer and for him to condemn the meme images circulating against these two women. If he is indeed a statesman and public servant, Cayetano owes this apology to each and every self-respecting woman of this country. And it is fitting for Cayetano to issue the public apology this March which is the world’s women’s month.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. PeaceTalk is open to anyone who wishes to share his/her piece on peace in Mindanao. Mary Ann M. Arnado is the spokesperson of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus, convenor of the Bantay Ceasefire and a Fellow of the Women Peacemakers Program of the Institute for Peace and Justice, University of San Diego)