UPLIFTING WOMEN. Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman greets women across the country a happy National Women’s Month in a video uploaded at the DBM official Facebook page on Wednesday (March 8, 2023). She renewed commitment to uplifting women, especially Filipino women everywhere. (Screengrab from DBM Facebook page)

MANILA – Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman on Wednesday assured support for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as it undergoes transition, including the implementation of special development programs for women empowerment.

Speaking at the kickoff celebration of the National Women’s Month led by the Bangsamoro Women Commission, Pangandaman lauded the efforts of women in BARMM for their significant strides in fostering peace and equality, and overall development in the region.

"I would like to greet and congratulate all the women in BARMM, especially for your contribution to strengthening communities and nation-building, advocating and fighting for peace and equality, and for lobbying for the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law that established the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or BARMM — a historic win for the whole country," she said.

She likewise reiterated the DBM's continued support for the BARMM in its transition process.

"I strongly believe that things will work better, especially in the government, when we have more women in charge to bring equality to the table. And so, we, at the Department of Budget and Management, are determined to help BARMM as it undergoes transition and implements gender-responsive and special development programs for women," Pangandaman said.

"As a proud daughter of Mindanao and as Secretary of the Budget Department of our country — only the second woman to hold this position —I am committed to the realization of a BARMM that is thriving, with Bangsamoro women whose rights are protected, and who are empowered to take part and take the lead in decision-making," she added.

The Marcos administration has appropriated PHP64.76 billion for BARMM’s Annual Block Grant; PHP5 billion as Special Development Fund for the rebuilding, rehabilitation and development of conflict-affected communities; and PHP4.59 billion for its share in taxes, fees and charges collected in the region.

Moreover, PHP852.9 million has been allocated for the Normalization Program and PHP36.1 million for the provision of socio-economic development assistance for former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) combatants in pursuit of the Government of the Philippines-MNLF Peace Process Program.

Women empowerment

In a separate video, Pangandaman joined the nation in celebrating National Women’s month, determined to answer the call for women empowerment.

“So this National Women's Month, we renew our commitment to uplifting women especially Filipino women everywhere,” she said.

She also commended her fellow female public servants in the Marcos Cabinet who serve as “prime examples of empowered women.”

"Your presence and leadership in the Marcos Jr. administration is also a testament to the commitment of President BBM to inclusivity and to making sure that the best leaders have a seat at the table, regardless of gender," she added.

Pangandaman is the second female to head the DBM.

The first was the late Secretary Emilia Boncodin who introduced ground-breaking reforms on budget and procurement and inculcated a culture of transparency in public financial management.

This year’s National Women’s Day celebration goes by the recurring theme from this year to 2028, “WE for gender equality and inclusive society,” according to the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) website.

“WE” stands for Women and Everyone and Women’s Empowerment.

The recurring theme is embedded in the 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda and the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028.

It is also reflected in the Gender and Development Budget Policy directing all government departments and agencies to allocate a minimum of 5 percent of their respective annual budget. (PNA)