NorthCot’s ‘champion’ of women’s and children’s rights succumbs to illness

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/5 April) – North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza and other women advocates have expressed their grief over the death of the province’s “champion on gender equality and advocate of women’s and children’s rights.”

Former journalist Maria Aurora Madreguera-Parreno, 49, focal person of the provincial government’s gender development and an activist for the protection of women’s and children’s rights, died of complications due to severe kidney infections on Friday, her relatives said.

Mendoza said she lost a “champion and a partner in fighting for women’s and children’s rights.”

“I also lost a caring, very trusting and dependable friend,” she said.

The governor recounted that her friendship with Parreno started in 1993 when she was still a provincial board member.

Mendoza authored the province’s Gender Code, said to be the first in the country, in 1993.

The governor said she was with Parreno, then a community organizer of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center, when she drafted the code.

“I hope all women would be inspired of her work and commit to continue the advocacy of empowering and protecting women and children,” Mendoza said.

Framer Mella, president of the Southern Philippine Methodist Colleges, Inc., said the life of Parreno is a “life well lived not only for her and her family but for the society as well.”

Mella wished that with Parreno’s death, the people of North Cotabato would have the courage to continue her struggle so that “one day, there will be no more women and children who will be discriminated, oppressed, subordinated and exploited.”

Jay Apiag, secretary-general of Karapatan-North Cotabato, said that he was at a loss for words upon hearing the demise of what he described was a “brave advocate of women’s and children’s rights and a staunch defender of the oppressed and the unheard.”

“Rest assured her memories will always inspire us to continue the advocacies we both shared and fought,” he said.

Parreno was survived by her husband Marick, children Jesa Mariel, Josef Andre and Kriza Gem.

Parreno was the woman behind the multi-awarded Usapang Pambata, a children’s radio program aired weekly over DXND in Kidapawan City and DXMS in Cotabato City. Both stations are owned by the Notre Dame Broadcasting Corp. of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

The program has thrice won as Best Children’s Radio Program and once as Best Radio Magazine Show at the Golden Dove Awards of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas in recent years.

For Mella, Parreno was “the “ate” or older sister behind the Summer Kids Peace Camp of the province, the dedicated facilitator behind the Provincial Revised Gender Code and a committed worker for a better future.” (MindaNews)