Samira Gutoc

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Samira Ali Gutoc-Tomawis (born 19 December 1974) is a Filipino civic leader, journalist, environmentalist, women’s rights advocate, and politician. She belongs to the Maranao ethnic group and is a follower of Islam. She is married to Engr. Abdul Maomit Tomawis.

She was a member of the Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which was tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law. She is the founder of Asian Peace Alliance and the Ranao Rescue Team. She is a member of the Asia-Pacific Peace Research Association and a contributor to Asian Muslim Action Network’s AMANAH publication. She writes the column “A Girl from Marawi” which comes out every Saturday on The Philippine Business and News.

Gutoc is noted as one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims by Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim Christian Understanding and was awarded by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) as one of The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) for Leadership. She was nominated to The Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) and for the Peace Award of the United Nations Development Programme.

She ran for the Senate in 2019 under the Otso Diretso coalition but failed to secure a seat. She takes a second shot at the Senate as part of presidentiable Isko Moreno’s senatorial slate.


Early Life and Education

Samira spent much of her childhood in Saudi Arabia because her parents were diplomats. Her father, Candidato Gutoc, was a diplomatic officer who rose through the ranks.

She obtained her degrees in Communication and Master in International Studies at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, law degree from the Arellano School of Law, and a fellowship at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies.


Career

Gutoc was a member of the 7th ARMM Assembly. She was one of the 27 officers-in-charge appointed by then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. They served until the 2013 elections.

In February 2017, she was appointed by incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte as member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which was tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law. She resigned in May 2017 and cited her disapproval of the government’s handling of the Marawi siege, the declaration of martial law, and Duterte’s joke that he would take the blame for soldiers who commit rape during the martial law.

In July 2017, she made an appeal before the Congress versus alleged human rights abuses made by the military during the Marawi siege. Then military chief Eduardo Año claimed such violations were “consequences of war” that the military did not intend to commit. However, he assured the public that the AFP assured the public the AFP will "avoid any inconvenience" among the Marawi residents.

Gutoc was a resident of Marawi when the siege took place. She established Ranao Rescue team, a volunteer group that helps displaced civilians due to the siege.

In October 2018, Gutoc filed her candidacy for senator for the May 2019 election, as a member of the Otso Diretso coalition. Her platform anchored on her long-standing advocacies: peace education, rights of women, children and Muslims, and monitoring of Marawi rehabilitation. She pushes for the creation of the Lake Lanao Development Authority and favors the Bangsamoro Organic Law. She opposes the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao, death penalty even for terrorists, and the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

She has lectured on Muslim leadership and managed various projects in ARMM including the Lake Lanao Development Project by the Philippine Muslim Women Council and Mindanao Youth Speak.

She was also a former member of the Local School Board in Marawi and has lectured on the value of education and youth development in international and local conferences. She was the first lady Muslim president of the UP Muslim Students Association and the Muslim Youth and Students Alliance.

She was a coordinator of the Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN) and a convenor of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy. She is one of the directors of Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines, Director of Marawi Resort Hotel, Inc., and a member of the Philippine Army Multi-Sectoral Advisory Board.

In 2021, Gutoc joined Aksyon Demokratiko’s national executive board. She filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) for Senator on 3 October 2021. She said that she would bring her experience as a “crisis worker” in the poorest parts of the country to her work in legislation if she wins a seat.



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