Breaking barriers and making history

Posted by watchmen
March 26, 2024
Posted in Better Days, OPINION


By Sonny Angara

As we celebrate National Women’s Month, we look back to the accomplishments of Filipinas and the issues that are relevant to them as part of the continuous effort to promote women empowerment and gender equality.

In the past year, we were witness to several milestones for some outstanding Filipino women. The Filipinas women’s national football team qualified for the World Cup, the first for the Philippines (men or women). While they failed to make it past the first round of the tournament, the Filipinas did manage to secure a victory against the host nation New Zealand.

Actress Dolly de Leon became the first Filipina to be invited to become a member of the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that votes for the winners of the annual Academy Awards or the Oscars.

We also saw the conferment of the Order of National Scientist on respected pediatrician and former chancellor of the University of the Philippines-Manila Dr. Carmencita Padilla for her pioneering work as a world-renowned clinical geneticist, for her contributions to newborn screening in the Philippines, and for the establishment of the Philippine Genome Center, which was instrumental in the fight against COVID-19.

We have known Dr. Padilla for a long time already — collaborating with her on many occasions towards the improvement of the Philippine health care system, including the crafting of the Rare Diseases Act of 2016 when I was still a member of the House of Representatives.

We continue to work with Dr. Padilla on some important pieces of legislation. For the amendments to the Government Procurement Reform Act, she has been actively involved in our hearings and technical working group meetings where she highlighted the need to improve the process of public procurement if our government intends to improve its research and development and innovation capabilities.

In our current review of the economic provisions of the Constitution, she has also emphasized the need to intensify our efforts in the fields of science and technology in order to sustain our progress as a nation.

On March 4, 2024, Sarah Geronimo also achieved the distinction of being the first Filipina to receive the Global Force Award at the 2024 Billboard Women in Music Awards. Held in Los Angeles, California, the award celebrates and honors women from various countries as Global Forces in recognition of their contributions to the music industry.

Since starting her music career at the age of two, Sarah has also appeared in hit movies and television shows and won various awards and recognitions including Best Asian Performer in the 2016 Japanese Classic Rock Awards; Best Selling Philippine Artist of the Year in the 2014 World Music Awards in Monaco; Best Southeast Asian Act at the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards in the Netherlands; and Best Asian Artist in the 2012 Mnet Asian Music Awards in Hong Kong. We recently filed a resolution to honor and commend Sarah for her historic achievement.

In our 20 years in Congress, we have initiated the filing of several measures aimed at fostering the empowerment of women and ensuring they enjoy the benefits and rights that they deserve. Among these is Republic Act 9710, or the Magna Carta of Women. The law encapsulates the different rights accorded to women such as non-discrimination in the military, police and other uniformed services.

Today we are seeing the fruits of this provision in the law. In the Philippine National Police (PNP), there are over 41,000 policewomen in the force or 18.32 percent of the 228,000 total personnel in 2023. A total of 2,978 of the policewomen are officers.

In the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), there are over 12,000 female military personnel out of the close to 160,000 total personnel. Right now, the AFP and PNP both have women spokespersons in Colonel Francel Margareth Padilla and Colonel Jean Fajardo, respectively. Padilla is the first woman spokesperson of the AFP and has a very strong background in cybersecurity. Fajardo, on the other hand, is a lawyer.

We are also one of the authors of RA 11210 or the Expanded Maternity Leave Law. The law gave our women members of the workforce a much-deserved extension of their leave benefits from 60 days to 105 days when they give birth. They are also given the option to extend their maternity leave for another 30 days, without pay.

Relatedly, RA 11148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act, of which we are the principal author, has been key to addressing the problem of malnutrition and under-nutrition among Filipino children. The law instituted the First 1,000 Days program at the LGU level to cater to the health and nutrition of mothers and their children (pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls, infants, and young children) from conception up to 1000 days or two years of age.

Rest assured that we will continue to support meaningful policies and legislation for the benefit of women everywhere.


Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 19 years — 9 years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and 10 as Senator. He has authored, co-authored, and sponsored more than 330 laws.  He is currently serving his second term in the Senate.


Email: | Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara/WDJ

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