Hundreds of women, including lumad from the Manilakbayan contingent, took to the streets today for the National Women’s Day of Protest to highlight issues of plunder, militarization and violence against women. The National Women’s Day of Protest is held yearly since 1983 when 10,000 women joined the huge rally after the assasination of Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino to protest massive human rights violations of the Marcos dictatorship. The protest action gives voice to women in airing out their stand on various economic and political issues that affect them.
“Ironically, up to his last year as president, Noynoy Aquino has lived up to the Marcos tradition of impunity in human rights violations as well as plunder of Philippine economy that the late Aquino Sr. had opposed and even died for,” stated Joms Salvador, Secretary General of GABRIELA.
Lumad women who joined the protest demanded the removal of all military units stationed in their communities, whom they accuse of harassment and human rights violations like rape and killings. They also denounced the concerted attack on lumad schools by the military, paramilitary groups and local officials.
“Lumad communities are being attacked because they stand staunchly against mining and logging companies that plunder their resources and displace them their ancestral land,” said Salvador.
Salvador lamented that the intensifying plunder of lumad communities is an offshoot of fiercer competition for resources and market between powerful countries, especially US and China. “Communities of indigenous peoples and peasants are subjected to continuous land-grabbing and resource extraction as neoliberal plunder is implemented to the fullest. Because we are not able to develop a national industry that will provide regular jobs and nurture the environment even as resources are utilized, our people as a whole struggle daily with poverty and violence,” she said.
This early, GABRIELA is preparing for a big protest action in time for the Economic Leaders Meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which they consider as a venue to further push neoliberal policies and peddle more “pacifier” projects for women like micro-financing and Conditional Cash Transfer. “Today’s protest signals a more intense education and mobilization campaign to protect and defend our resources, our patrimony and ourselves from the all-fronted attack of the Aquino government. As nurturers of our future, women must rise up to this challenge as one,” Salvador ended. ###
Reference: JOMS SALVADOR, Secretary General (0918 9182150) / Public Info Desk (3712302)