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News :: Gender : Human Rights : International
International Women's Day in the Philippines
11 Mar 2006
Women of different political groups and professions were present at the March. Thirteen major groups joined forces under the banner “Martsa ng Kababaihan”. Present in big numbers were members of Akbayan, LABAN ng MASA, Bayan, Black and White Movement, women advocate groups like Gabriela Women’s Party, Welga ng Kababaihan, and WomenSpeak. In an interesting twist of history, this was the first time that the women’s movements gathered together in a common cause since the Marcos dictatorship.
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A Woman’s Place is in the Struggle

Women’s Groups Statement on the occasion of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2006
International Women's Day is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of ordinary women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for "liberty, equality, fraternity" marched on Versailles to demand women's suffrage. In 1909, the first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated March 8 in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.

In the Philippines, IWD has been a marking point for many women’s groups to look again at the courageous ‘herstory’ of our foremothers who joined the struggles for independence and women’s right to suffrage. In the 1970s at the height of the tyrannical rule of the Marcos regime, many women from all social classes joined hands to actively support the anti-dictatorship struggle. In 1983, when Ninoy Aquino was murdered by the elements of the dictatorship, thousands of women poured into the streets and bravely marched in defiance of the Martial Law regime. That women’s march proved to be a milestone in the history of the Filipino people’s reclaiming of our democratic rights.

Today March 8, 2006, women are once again defying another repressive government, that of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s. Despite the lifting of Proclamation 1017 which declared a State of National Emergency, the intimidation, harassment and curtailment of human rights continue: six legislators, among them, Representative Liza Masa, are technically under arrest for alleged rebellion and sedition, old charges that are clearly dug up to justify government’s actions. Charges have been filed against some media outfits and press freedom continues to be threatened. Activists and critics of the current administration are harassed, intimidated and even murdered. Gloria boasts that the alleged coup plots against her administration have been nipped in the bud, but declares that she would not hesitate to reinstate the State of National Emergency if she thinks that the “national interest” is put to risk.

Women ask: whose national interest is being protected? Is Gloria’s national interest the same interest of women and men who clamor for decent employment, livelihood, food and housing of poor households? Is Gloria’s “national interest” that of the State and the rights and welfare of its citizens, or does she equate the State with herself and her political survival?

The question of legitimacy has hounded Gloria from the very beginning of her assumption into power. Seeking an electoral mandate in 2004, she was proclaimed president amid widespread reports of massive systematic cheating. Successive scandals have rocked her administration—the jueteng scandal, the “Hello Garci” tapes, the fertilizer fund scam, misuse of public funds, restiveness in the military due to corruption issues, etc.

Her response has been to impose calibrated pre-emptive response (CPR), EO 464, and Proclamation 1017. It is the response of a regime under siege.

Women have found no support from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a woman president. Her 10-point development agenda makes no mention of any gender concern. She has denied official support for full reproductive health and family planning services, thus putting at risk women’s health and lives. The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women that is mandated to ensure gender responsive policies has one of the smallest budgets in the bureaucracy. Despite the 25th year of the celebration of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women or CEDAW, to which the Philippine Government is a signatory, the fundamental rights of women remain a pipedream to millions of women who are daughters, wives, mothers to millions of households.

Constituting one-half of society, we, women, have every right to voice our concerns and to demand what is just and equitable for ourselves, our children and families.

We demand that the Arroyo administration be held accountable for abetting feminization of migration and poverty. Filipino women migrants continue to suffer the effects of migration that include intense loneliness and separation from their own children and loved ones, alienation in foreign lands, and their vulnerability to various forms of violence while in overseas work.

We hold the Arroyo administration accountable for the ill-health and deaths of girls and women, mothers and wives, because of policies that deny them their reproductive rights and access to reproductive health care.

Women have become more vulnerable to disasters, natural or man-made, as experienced by those in the Ultra tragedy and Southern Leyte mudslide.
But Gloria is tragedy herself as she imposes her anti-poor, anti-people mining and logging policies.

We demand that Gloria step down, for the sake of our millions of women and their families whose quality of life has deteriorated over the years as a result of her insensitive, anti-women, anti-poor policies and programs.

We want a government that truly respects, protects and promotes women’s human rights.

We want a government that heeds and provides for the basic needs of its people and ensures their rights and welfare.

In these trying times, a woman’s place is in the struggle for defending our civil liberties and democratic rights, and for the political and social transformation necessary to bring about a better life for the majority of our women, their families and communities.


Martsa ng Kababaihan

Akbayan - Women * Bangon Pilipinas! – Women * Black & White Movement * Forces of the United Middle Class * Gabriela * Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) – Philippines * KMLG * LABAN ng MASA – Kababaihan * NCCV * OFW Family Club * Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino * Welga ng Kababaihan * Women March * WomenSpeak
March 8, 2006

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Mock Beauty Pageant Dispersed by Police, AKBAYAN Staff Arrested


March 6, 2006

A mock beauty pageant supposedly to be staged by the AKBAYAN Women at the Boys Scouts Circle in Timog today was violently dispersed by police. A staff of the National Secretariat of AKBAYAN, Jessie Dimaisip, was arrested by police agents.

The women of AKBAYAN wearing their costumes were driven out of their vehicles even before they were able to assemble and were made to board a police truck. According to the agents at Camp Karingal, Jessie Dimaisip will be charged with violation of BP 880 or illegal assembly. AKBAYAN Women coordinator Malou Perpetua was quick to point out that their group cannot be charged with illegal assembly because they have not yet assembled. “Malinaw na harassment ito, hindi pa nga kami nakakapagsimula, inaresto na agad si Jessie,” said Perpetua.

During the scuffle at Morato, AKBAYAN members noticed that the police were carrying firearms. “Malinaw na violation ito ng rules of engagement, bawal magdala ng baril sa dispersal opearations, unless desperado na talaga ang administrasyong ito at may balak silang iba. They cannot deny it, meron kaming video footage showing na may baril na nahulog ng isang police. Ang dami pang SWAT na may dalang armalite,” Perpetua stressed. AKBAYAN will file a complaint with the National Police Commission against the allegedly erring police agents.

The women of AKBAYAN along with Dimaisip were brought to Camp Karingal, the women were released but Dimaisip was detained. AKBAYAN Representative Risa Hontiveros who rushed to Camp Caringal condemned the incident. “Dispersing a supposedly creative cultural endeavor of women was an overkill. The insecurity of the Arroyo administration is insane. Imagine dispersing a group of forty women in costume by armed police agents. Karumaldumal talaga ito,” the AKBAYAN lady solon declared.

AKBAYAN women held a picket infront of Camp Caringal calling for the release of Dimaisip. “Nakakalungkot isipin na sa buwan ng kababaihan ay ganito ang ginagawa sa amin, wala bang karapatan kaming mga babae na magdiwang ng Women’s Month?” said AKBAYAN Women leader My Hega.

The group vowed to defy what they call the resurrection of the Arroyo administration’s Calibrated Pre-emptive Response to Protest Actions (CPR) with a bigger rally on Women’s Day. “Di patitinag kaming mga kababaihan, di patatakot kay Gloria. Ikinahihiya naming mga babae si Gloria,” Hega added.

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Dispersal of Women Rally: Sign of GMA’s extreme paranoia!

Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)

March 8, 2006

The Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) condemns the dispersal of the rally held by women-members of APL with other fraternal organizations this morning as they marched from the Sto. Domingo church towards Mendiola to commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD).

The police blocked the rallyists at the Welcome Rotonda and after an hour of negotiation, the police without any provocation begun arresting Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan party and clobbering the activists ruthlessly with their batons and truncheons. Many were hurt and injured during the scuffle. Those arrested along with Ms. Hontiveros were Josua Mata, APL secretary general and other activists.

“The police has no right to disperse the activity and arrest its leaders since the APL and other groups were just exercising their fundamental right to peacefully assemble as enshrined in the Constitution, “ Tess Gurion, chair of APL-Women said.

“Gloria Arroyo has only proven that she is really determined to destroy democracy in our country. She has not only turned her back on the will and interests of the Filipino people but is using brute force to stifle our legitimate rights and democratic demands to perpetuate herself in power,” Gurion added.

“It is not a sign of might and determination to protect and defend democracy. Rather, it is a pathetic attempt of a president to do anything to “legitimize” her cling to power. What happened clearly indicates that Gloria Arroyo is now in an extreme state of paranoia for she knows that her time is up and is already at the brink of being ousted from Malacañang. Martial Law is definitely here again and she is now using the coercive powers of the state to create a climate of fear and unrest,“ Fatima Cabanag, Kapatiran ng Manggagawang Obrero (KAMAO-APL) said.

“The continued dispersal of peaceful demonstrations held in the exercise of the constitutional right to hold assemblies and petition the government for redress of grievances is a basic sign that Gloria Arroyo will really not listen to the demands of the people and will continue to stifle legitimate political dissent that would only result to more violations of human rights. Unfortunately for her, Gloria has no time left to retract and amend. The people are disgusted and soon, her time would be finally over,” Cabanag added.

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Laban ng Masa (Fight of the Masses)

Martsa ng Kababaihan

Alliance of Progressive Labor - Women

Akbayan Partylist Representative Risa Hontiveros

Akbayan Partylist Representative Risa Hontiveros being "invited" and "protected" (or being being kidnapped by the police?)

Protesting illegal arrest of Akbayan Partylist Representative Risa Hontiveros
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