STATEMENT ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Violence against women is a policy of the Duterte administration. This violence is evident in the president’s economic policies, his verbal attack on women, and his marginalization of women in power. Today, International Women’s Day 2018, we are telling Mr. Duterte that we’ve had enough of these. We are rising, resisting, reclaiming our power!
Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs has left in its trail thousands of widows and orphans, yet he stubbornly refuses to replace the wanton killing of alleged drug users with a more comprehensive, humane rehabilitation program that would be more sustainable. He would rather have the poor killed and their number decimated than come up with an anti-poverty program that would address the problem’s more systemic roots. In a September survey, released in December last year, 47 percent Filipinos (10.4 million) considered themselves poor, while more than 30 percent or more than 7 million Filipinos rated themselves food poor or unable to obtain enough income to feed themselves and their families adequately. In October 2017, there were 134,000 fewer employed Filipinos from last year, owing to the 1.43 million jobs lost in the agricultural sector (Punongbayan, JC. Rappler, Dec. 2017). He could not even put an end to ENDO as promised, thus allowing for the continuing feminization of contractual labor even as his administration pushed for the passing into law and now the implementation of TRAIN, a taxation system that further devalues the income of workers who also have to face increased costs of basic goods and provisions.
Meanwhile, Duterte’s anti-women remarks have always been passed off as “jokes” but they reveal a deep-seated hatred of women; these tirades against women further contribute to the normalization of sexual violence against women and girls. Under his strong-man rule, what the president says is not just mere words but are taken as policy themselves. His promotion of sex tourism with his remark on “42 virgins” as come-on for visitors to the country and his encouragement of the military to shoot the vagina of female rebels (members of the New People’s Army) again constitute violent attacks on women and make us more vulnerable to violence.
Another means of Mr. Duterte to control and punish women is by disempowering women in government positions and in media who refuse to be cowed and are critical of the president’s actions and policies, such as in the case of Senator Leila de Lima, who was imprisoned without due process, and Chief Justice Sereno who is now threatened with an impeachment. Then, there are also Partricia Licuanan of CHED, Pia Ranada and Maria Ressa of Rappler, among others.
Duterte lies when he says he supports women’s rights and their role in development. “Look at what I’ve done in Davao”, he would boast. But he doesn’t talk about how the indigenous women have been made vulnerable as they face the military daily as they fight for their ancestral lands against corporations. He would even pick out mining and plantation companies that can invest in these ancestral lands. These indigenous women face harassments, threats, and leaders are killed.
Unable to solve socio-economic issues, Duterte wants charter change and a shift to federal system of government to further his authoritarian rule. But we, Filipino women, will have no more of Duterte’s duplicity and violence against women in all forms. Kabuhayan, Katarungan, Kapangyarihan sa Kababaihan are rightfully ours. With nothing to gain from this government, we shall rise, resist, and reclaim our bodies, and spaces!
Alyansa Tigil Mina
Amnesty International Philippines
Bagong Kamalayan Prostitution Survivors’ Collective
BUKLOD – Olongapo
Center for Migrant Advocacy, Phils. Inc.
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
Focus on the Global South
Foundation for Media Alternatives
Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa (KALIPUNAN)
LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenouse Women’s Rights)
Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan Sa Kanayunan
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa – Sentro
USAD Ateneo de Manila
Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau – WLB
World March of Women – Pilipinas
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