[Statement] Women Human Rights Defenders suffer the brunt of the attacks of Duterte -TFDP

Women Human Rights Defenders suffer the brunt of the attacks of Duterte

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), a human rights organization and mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP), commemorates the International Women’s Day by extending our solidarity with the women’s movement and condemn the attacks they suffer from the Duterte Administration from misogyny up to detention and killings.

Women activists suffer the same fate as other HRDs, harassed and threatened online and offline, subjected to misogynistic comments and abuses, tagged as enemies of the State, detained, and worse, killed because of their work as human rights workers and activists.

Just like in the case of Sister Susan Octavio Bolanio, 66 years old, Oblates of Notre Dame congregation, who has been receiving series of messages, red-tagging and associating her with the New People’s Army (NPA). This is because of Sr. Bolanio’s alleged involvement in cases filed by victims and in fact-finding missions conducted by human rights groups regarding the TAMASCO massacre in Sitio Tulali, Brgy. Santo Nino, Bagumbayan Sultan Kudarat, and Sitio Datal Bonglangon, Brgy. Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

Sr. Susan Bolanio has been a nun since 1971. She is currently working with OND-HESED Foundation, which is serving 67 communities in South Cotabato and Sarangani Province. OND-HESED has been working with TAMASCO for 20 years now.

Another case is that of Myra Opada, who together with Lucille Gesta, and Aurelia Parangan, officers and members of the Philippine Light Leather Employees Union (PLLEU) and former employees of the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) in Barangay Pusok, Lapulapu City, Cebu, was harassed and tagged as wanted persons by MEPZ HR Personnel.

These are just a few of the documented cases of TFDP on violations committed against women human rights defenders by the government and private corporations. The harassments of MEPZ against Opada and her co-union members can be rooted from the struggles that these women have been leading in defense of their rights as workers.

Red tagging or linking human rights defenders to rebel groups has been the way of government to discredit and silence human rights defenders like Sr. Susan Bolanio. This will also lead to trumped-up charges and arbitrary arrests and detention to cripple or cause a chilling effect to communities and groups that are actively pursuing issues concerning rights of the marginalized like that of the members of T’boli Manobo S’daf Claimants Organization or TAMASCO.

President Duterte has been throwing invectives against women and even encourages that women whom they allege as amazonas or women members of NPAs be shot in their vaginas.

Let us remind the President that his way of expressing his disgusts for human rights defenders especially women during his public appearances abets violence against HRDs. It puts HRDs in danger and their lives at risk.

The active campaign of the government against the communists and other rebel groups in the guise of anti-terror campaign leads to attacks and vilification of human rights defenders. It poses more harm especially with his open declaration of war against all who oppose him.

As the head of state, and because the Philippines is signatory to major international human rights conventions, President Duterte must abide by its commitments to each of the U.N. Conventions and treaties.

These conventions and treaties may not be enough to stop his violations, but we always have the Philippine women’s movement that is getting stronger and broader to rely on in exacting justice and holding him accountable to all violations.

Padayon kababaihan, ipaglaban ang karapatan ng lahat!

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