A former journalist, a long-time community organizer, a peace builder and a first-hand witness to the horrors of the Marawi siege, Lawyer-Mother-Muslim SAMIRA GUTOC is aiming to become the voice of the marginalized in the upcoming 2019 Senatorial elections in the Philippines.

In an intimate media conference held at Romulo’s Cafe last Friday, Samira, who has the support of the opposition, said that her decision to run as a senator is brought about by her aspiration to further move the agenda of peace into the policies of the government.

She believes in the grassroots approach towards peace and plans to work in strengthening policies with regards to health, housing, women and security to achieve it.

Her experience as a correspondent for the inquirer opened her eyes to the harsh realities of people living and dying, in the fringes. She was one of the founders of Ranao Rescue, where she honed her community organizing skills and learned how to live with the people she serves.

She strikes me as a very strong woman, but when asked about her experiences during the Marawi crisis, Samira broke down in tears. Much like all the other people I have encountered in the past who have faced the same ordeal.

Samira recently won the N-Peace Award for the Philippines under the Untold Stories category for her efforts toward peace-building in the country and her role in the advancement of the rights of women and the marginalized sector in Marawi.

Samira is the first woman President of the UP Muslim Students Association and the Metro Manila-Wide Muslim Youth and Student Alliance. She also served as an Assemblywoman for the ARMM Legislative Assembly and was instrumental in bringing about the Bangsamoro Organic Law by being part of the transition council.

These and many other achievements has qualified Samira Gutoc as a strong senatorial candidate for the opposition in the 2019 elections.

Samira reveals during the interview that she looks up to and admires deeply Mother Theresa to the point that she wanted to emulate all the things that she did for poor and the marginalized.

Also during the media conference, Samira reiterated that as a peace advocate, she is very much against extra judicial killings or EJK – the very reason why she’s running with the opposition.

Before the conference, Samira’s camp launched a 2-minute promotional video to introduce Samira Gutoc as well as a glimpse of what she aims to bring (or fight for) when she gets a seat in the senate.

“Babae, probinsyano, ina, karaniwang tao. Ako si Samira Gutoc.” Samira ends her video.

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