MANILA - Maranao civic leader and former Otso Diretso candidate Samira Gutoc has joined Aksyon Demokratiko, the party said on Friday.
Gutoc is now part of Aksyon's National Executive Board, party chair Ernest Ramel Jr. said in a statement.
"Si Sam ay perfect fit para sa Aksyon dahil sa kanyang solid record sa serbisyo publiko at sa pagkalinga sa mga komunidad kasama na ang mga bakwit at kababaihan," he said.
"She has initiated community projects that has helped uplift the vulnerable and marginalized. We welcome with pride a highly accomplished woman like her to Aksyon's National Executive Board," he said.
Aksyon Demokratiko party president and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said Gutoc's inclusion in their team is important as she represents Filipino-Muslims.
"Mahalaga sa ating kasaysayan at sa kasalukuyan ang ating mga kapatid na Muslim. Sabi ko nga, Muslims brought greatness to us even before the Spaniards reached our shores. Kaya masaya akong maging kasapi sa Aksyon si Samira Gutoc," the mayor said.
Gutoc said she joined Aksyon Demokratiko because she is a fan of its founder, former Sen. Raul Roco.
"I have always been a fan of the late great former Senator Raul Roco and considered his 'Agenda of Hope' an inspired manifesto," said Gutoc, who only joined the party on August 9.
"Aksyon's focus on jobs, hunger, peace, empowerment of the masses and of the youth resonated quite powerfully with me, as these are the same objectives I have set for my work," she said.
In 2019, Gutoc was a senatorial candidate for opposition slate Otso Diretso.
Prior to her failed Senate bid, Gutoc worked as a Moro civic leader from conflict-stricken Marawi City, and has been advocating for women and children's rights and the rehabilitation of the war-torn city.
Gutoc is also a Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Awardee for Socio Cultural and Youth Development in 2001.
"Samira will be a strong voice for Muslims and Mindanaoans within the party given her contribution to the region. She was also Aksyon Kabataan's esteemed speaker in our first national conference in 1998 so her engagement with the party goes a long way," said Aksyon Secretary-General and former National Youth Commission Chairperson Leon Flores III.
"She understands youth development having been an active and progressive youth leader," he said.
"Gutoc is globally recognized as one of 500 Most Influential Muslims by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan as well as by TheMuslim500.com," Aksyon noted in its statement.
In the 2019 campaign, the Mindanaoan leader was known for shattering religious stereotypes after she attended a mass and entered a Catholic church while wooing voters in various parts of the country.
Aksyon has yet to confirm if she would be part of their senatorial slate in the upcoming 2022 national elections.