call to end violence in philippines on Nov 25

november 25, the international day for elimination of violence against women

poverty and hunger are violence against women

international day to eliminate violence against women - nov 25


Statement of Innabuyog-Gabriela on the Occasion of November 25 as International Day to End Violence Against Women (IDEVAW)


POVERTY AND HUNGER ARE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Forty five years ago, on November 25, 1960, the bodies of three dead women were found in the bottom of a cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic.  The women were sisters, Minerva, Patria and Maria Theresa Mirabal, collectively known as “The Mariposas” (the butterflies).  They were active members of an underground movement fighting against the fascist dictatorship of General Raphael Leonides Trujillo.  Before they were found dead, they just visited their husbands who were political prisoners of Trujillo’s regime. 

It was an indignation over this horrid incident that Latin American women came together in Bogota, Colombia in 1981 to declare November 25 as International Day to End Violence Against Women (IDEVAW).  Ten years later, in November 25, 1991, the United Nations passed the Convention on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CEDAW).

This incident of state violence against women may have happened four decades ago in a distant country.  Yet, it strikes a chord close to our hearts as similar incidents happen almost everyday right here in the Philippines.  News reports are filled with stories of how women fall victims to violence in militarized areas, in the streets, in schools, in work places and even in their homes.  Women and children continue to be vulnerable victims of violence in a society plagued by machismo and feudal-patriarchal and western-decadent attitudes towards women.

Violence against women is not only limited to the physical.  Hunger and poverty which is worsening day after another is violence against women. Unemployment rate has reached 13.7%, the highest in the country’s unemployment record. Inflation rate has reached the highest mark of 8.4% this year.  For us ordinary Filipino women, these figures simply mean that we can no longer afford, that we are deeply mired in poverty and that our families are hungry.  With a low wage of less than P200 pesos a day and no job security to speak of, ordinary women and their families can no longer cope with the hard times. This is even lower in the rural areas where Cordillera peasant and indigenous women receive from P60-150 a day. For a P60 wage for a day’s work, a rural woman can only buy a ganta of rice. A Cordillera indigenous peasant woman is forced to look for por dia for about  3 quarters a year as the rice production of  her family lasts for just about a quarter. Land as the main source of food for Cordillera indigenous peoples are at stake with the implementation of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. About 66% of Cordillera land is covered with mining applications.

To cope, many Cordillera women even from the interiors are forced to go abroad to work as overseas migrant workers. They join the 2,400 Filipino migrant workers, 80% are women, who leave the country daily.

Prices of oil products had been on the rise, jacking-up the prices of commodities, utilities and services. In the rural areas where transport service is difficult and cost of fuel is indeed expensive, baggage fares are priced by weight and size. But the GMA regime is just too voracious to squeeze us of our last centavo by implementing the 10% value-added tax last November 1.  Early next year, we will face the additional burden of a 12% increase in E-VAT. The controversial E-VAT was enforced by the GMA regime hoping to generate P19.9 B. On the other hand, the GMA regime refuses to resolve the big issue of  tax evasion by corporations and big-time professionals and business that lost P80.8 B of collectible taxes. About P30.7 to 51.4 B was lost to VAT leakages. GMA also went on to tolerate the accelerated tariff cut which gave up P100-150 B (1994-2004) and provided fiscal incentives/tax exemptions amounting to P32.6 B. GMA has never been serious in checking the massive graft and corruption within the bureaucracy that eats up about 20% of the national budget (WB report).

The GMA regime is being rocked by angry protests and calls for her to step down is mounting. The economic crisis alone is enough to demand her ouster. Why keep GMA when she brought  90% of the national population to live on less than P137/day, a wage that is way below the government’s (NEDA) prescribed daily wage of P640 in order to have a decent living. Why keep GMA when 15% of the national population experience hunger (Social Weather Station). Why keep GMA when 73% of the national population says they are much poorer this year than last year (Pulse Asia). Why keep GMA when 15% of the national population survive on a meager daily budget of P56.00 and below (ADB research). GMA is just too arrogant and spiteful to care about the poverty and hunger of the Filipino masses. Women from the democratic classes continue to be beaten by the misprioritization of this horrid regime.

National budget areas

2001

2006

Education

17.54%

13.9%

Health

1.9%

1.3%

Housing

0.4%

0.3%

Military spending

4.7%

5.0%

debt payment

25.9%

32.3%

National budget allocation:  2001-2006

The economic violence has resulted to a higher mortality rate for children.  The 2003 NSO survey revealed that for every 1,000 births, 29 children die before they reach their first year and 40 children die before reaching age 5. The survey also said that the infant mortality rate in the Philippines is high compared to neighboring Asian countries. Yet, government’s national budget for health services is consistently falling, its measly budget of  44 centavos per Filipino per day in 2005 will even reduce by 2006.

Economic violence has direct relations with other forms of violence on women.  The degree of sexual and physical violence against women and children in the country is illustrated by the following data:  a woman is raped every 76 minutes, a woman is sexually harassed every 84 minutes and a child is battered every 3 hours.  Violence against women and children is also being fanned by pornographic and decadent media materials that reach even the remotest villages in the Cordillera.  

GMA committed another mistake by heightening the anti-terror campaign of her falling regime. The calibrated pre-emptive response, direct assault and threats to activists and peoples’ organizations proposing social alternatives, militarization in the countrysides, committing wider support to the US war on terror and legislative proposals like the anti-terrorism bill, national ID system and charter change are all but forms of state terrorism meant to suppress people’s actions against unjust government policies and structures. A true-blue ally of the US regime, GMA has expressed her all-out support to the US war on terror in all recent conferences called for this purpose. With the forthcoming 6th ministerial meeting of the WTO in Hong Kong, GMA is expected to present the Philippine government’s remaining commitments of further selling up the remaining protection of our agriculture, trade and services.

These prevailing conditions of Cordillera and Filipino women are the same conditions that the Mariposas resisted and that eventually inspired the declaration of November 25 as International Day of Protest for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

As women from the democratic sectors and classes of the Cordillera, we join the country’s and world’s struggling women who on this occasion are doing their own way of commemorating a significant date for women. We remember and give our highest salute to the brave and incorruptible women who gave their biggest  sacrifice, even their lives for women in their communities, countries and the world may enjoy a life that is free from all forms of violence, discrimination and exploitation.

We assert that hunger and poverty are violence against women and that the GMA regime is responsible for the degree of hunger and poverty being experienced by the country at present.  To save us from further violence, we demand GMA to step down, now and let the transitional council move in taking on the national leadership while facilitating the election of a new leader.

            -Make the GMA regime responsible for the widespread poverty and hunger            among Cordillera women and their families! OUST GMA!
            -Persevere in our struggle for land, food and rights! Scrap the Phil. Mining Act      1995!  
            -Scrap the Oil Deregulation Law and the Expanded-Value Added Tax!  
            -Demand  WTO out from agricultural and of our lives! Junk the World Trade         Organization!
            -Enough with imperialist plunder and globalization!

Innabuyog-Gabriela Cordillera
25 November 2005