With its aim of a happy and dignified life for all Isabeleños –regardless of gender or sexual identity –the City Government of Isabela de Basilan under the inclusive leadership of Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman held its first-ever Gender and Development (GAD) Strategic Planning and Budgeting from January 17-19 at the Garden Orchid Hotel, Zamboanga City. The gathering saw department heads and representatives from the various offices and divisions of the local government as participants.
The aim of the said activity was to initiate the necessary steps to craft the GAD Agenda of the city for the next six years. As such, the concept of the GAD Focal Point System (GAD FPS) was reinforced through sessions and workshops. As defined by the Philippine Commission on Women, the GAD FPS “is an interacting and interdependent group of people in all government instrumentalities tasked to catalyze and accelerate gender mainstreaming.”
The first day saw Jayson V. Sabdilon, chair of the Psychology Department of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University revisit concepts related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression as well as the utilization of gender analysis tools. He was followed by Norkhalila Mae B. Mambuay-Campong, former Cabinet Secretary of the then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, who facilitated the workshop proper in the formulation of the GAD Agenda. Providing additional input through the presentation of the Isabela City GAD Code was no less than the chair of the Committee on Women and Children of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, Councilor Karel Annjaiza R. Sakkalahul. Just prior to its culmination, Dihsie R. Lauron, former regional GAD Focal of the Department of Interior and Local Government IX discussed via ZOOM platform the various GAD mandates, and how to accomplish the GAD template, highlighting in her talk the many issues and questions raised on how to properly dispense the GAD allocation of a local government unit’s budget.
In closing, City Information Officer and concurrent Isabela City GAD Focal Mendry-Ann A. Lim described the occasion as a necessary step toward the realization of a gender-inclusive City of Isabela de Basilan. While she admitted that much still needs to be done, she took the presence and participation of everyone in attendance as a sign that the city was on the right path in achieving its GAD-related goals and objectives. Speaking on behalf of Mayor Hataman, Public Employment Services Office manager Aradelria T. Belleng reiterated the need for everyone’s proactive support in crafting policies, programs, and projects that will pave the way for gender equality and parity as true hallmarks of a progressive city and community.