Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sonia Roco: A mother and an education advocate

April 22, Quezon City – Unlike other political candidates and advocates, Sonia Roco welcomed me in her home at La Vista Subdivision like a usual family guest. She was busy cleaning her house with her family members and helpers, at the same time preparing for a sortie. We set the 20-minute interview in the library area, where the late Senator and Department of Education Secretary Raul Roco spent most of the time at home.

As a wife of a politician, Sonia became conscious with the socio-political issues in the country, who she joined projects of the association of the wives of the politicians, such as educational projects and other livelihood programs. She also went to speeches and other programs as a substitute for the late senator. Having the title “Inang Guro” (Mother Teacher), Mrs. Roco will tryagain to win a seat in senate under the Liberal Party, where the political party founded by her late husband – Aksyon Demokratiko (Democratic Action) allied itself with Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, LP’s presidential candidate.

Roco focuses her campaign in three core plans: education for youth, women empowerment and economy for all. She believes that everyone is part of nation building, especially the youth. She would like to educate the youth on their rights responsible citizenship. She would also like to continue the legacy of her late husband, who was awarded as “honorary woman” after creating policies and bills that empowers women on their rights and brought back the dignity in them. And lastly, her view on economy for all is that she wanted to create the idea of equality amongst the Filipino citizens, especially in terms of jobs.

As a teacher for 25 years, Roco said that public education system in the Philippines needs help. She believes that good educators make good schools, yet educators are not properly compensated. Instead of teaching properly in schools, they end up selling things to support their low salary. She recommended revisiting their teaching skills and would aid them to improve in their fields, including their salary.

As a mother, Roco answered the question of domestic violence where majority of the women in the country faces. Roco stated that the sometimes law or the government itself cannot intervene with the personal lives of the couple, but she emphasized that there are laws governing the rights of women who faces violence. She added that domestic violence does not only involve women as victims, but also men. The only thing to stop any form of violence inside Filipino homes is to know their rights and the laws that will protect them, Roco mentioned.

Roco’sview on reproductive health was that the bill must state and define clearly on how we wanted to be applied including the health aspect, to avoid confusion in other sectors. Lastly in the topic of gender equality, Roco believed that women do the same work as men, but the latter receives lesser compensation than the former. She added that there are companies that hire men over women who are qualified to work yet these companies sees a possible issue when women get married and possible pregnancy which may affect the operations and productivity. Roco used the idea of Gender Free where companies would only focus in qualifications, and not on gender. If given a chance to become a senator, Roco would like to revisit the laws that govern the issue of gender equality and the rights of women in the society.

Watch the full 20 minute interview of Mrs. Sonia Roco:

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