Survivors and their children gathered in Marikina to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Typhoon Ondoy.
The Center for Women’s Resources joins people’s organizations and rights groups in condemning the Philippine government for its complicity to the Israeli genocide in Palestine. Its position in the recent UN resolution calling for a humanitarian truce, where the Philippine government abstained, clearly shows where its support and interest lies – to the oppressors and repressive regimes backed by imperialist powers and colonizers who continuously violate international human rights and humanitarian laws.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 8,000 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, including 3,648 children and 2,187 women. Despite its own people demanding an end to the violence in Palestine, the extremist Zionist regime resorted to cold-bloodedly targeting civilians, homes, schools, hospitals and churches with absolute disregard of human rights and international humanitarian law.
Before this, the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza strip, have suffered decades of bombings, offensives, and blockade of food, water, electricity and supplies from the Israeli government, an extreme violation Palestinian’s right to life and self-determination.
The Philippine government’s abstention to the resolution and its full support to Israel is appalling. The position however comes as no surprise when the Philippine government, under Pres. Duterte has kept Israel as a close military ally, purchasing P15 billion worth of arms from Israel since 2018.
The Marcos Jr. administration is no different from the Duterte administration in playing a crucial role in supporting Israel’s genocide in Palestine.
Despite 30,000 Filipinos living in Israel and 100 in the Gaza Strip, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed support to Israel, assuring that the Philippines will always stand with Israel in its war against the Hamas. However, this kind of support further legitimizes Israel’s impunity and violence inflicted not only to the Palestinian people, but also endangering the lives of Filipino migrant workers.
We also condemn the US government’s support and for heavily funding the Israeli government’s atrocities, all for its strategic expansion of their imperialist control over the Middle East and the region’s oil and gas reserves. For decades, billions of dollars’ worth of US military aid and armaments paved the way for Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
The Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) stands with Palestine because Palestinians and Filipinos share a common history fighting against colonial rule and oppression in all of its forms – reforms, protest actions, political campaigns, and armed struggle – all towards liberation, genuine freedom, and democracy. #
On the occasion of Rural Women’s Day and World Food Day, the Center for Women’s Resources salutes rural women who are the backbone of our food systems. Despite their vital role in the agricultural sector and in the country’s economy, farmers and fisherfolk remain the poorest sector.
Half of the population in rural areas are women, including peasants, agricultural workers, settlers, small fisherfolk and the national minority. Their fight for access and control over productive resources, such as land, remains an ongoing struggle. According to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), seven to nine out of 10 farming families do not own the land they cultivate. Large parcels of land continue to be concentrated in the hands of a few landlords and corporations, while land grabbing and land use conversion remains pervasive.
Thus, despite decades of land reform programs, women can hardly have access and control over land. Among the small number of farmers who are holding emancipation patents (EPs) and certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs), women significantly trail behind men. Of the total 517,304 EP holders, merely 18.59% (96,142) are women. As for CLOA holders, only 31.12% (633,314) are women out of a total of 2,034,851 CLOA holders.
Massive landlessness among the farmers coupled with agricultural liberalization directly impacts food security. Local food production is necessary to address the basic food needs of the country, and yet, we have not seen any significant state support to ensure a robust food system. This has then led to increased food insecurity and hunger.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 5.3 million Filipinos are severely food insecure and 48 million are moderately or severely food insecure from 2019 to 2021. Due to increasing food prices, Filipinos could hardly afford a healthy diet. A healthy diet in the Philippines was pegged at P238.9 (USD 4.05) in 2019 which increased to P242.53 (USD 4.11) in 2020. This results in 68.6% or 75.2 million of the country’s total population who cannot afford a healthy diet. If the state focuses its efforts in strengthening the production of local small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, importation of agricultural and food products from foreign countries can then be reduced.
Implementing the Rice Liberalization Law (RLL), Agriculture & Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), agricultural liberalization, and entering the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture has resulted to the persistent food, economic, and development crisis, proving the failure of neoliberal policies in addressing the agricultural crisis of the country.
Such policies allow the uncontrolled importation of agricultural goods that local food producers are unable to compete with. They then are forced to sell their produce at such a low price causing bankruptcy and drowning them further in debt. Worse, Pres. Marcos Jr. allowed the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a mega free trade deal that will further devastate local agriculture.
Despite this, the farmers and fisherfolk lack no initiative in reclaiming their right to access and control over productive resources. Rural women continue to embark in community and collective initiatives, even while confronting harassment and threats as they strive to regain ownership of estates they cultivate. They face threats of demolition, arrests, and other forms of harassment from police authorities and security forces.
This Rural Women’s Day and World Food Day, we reiterate our demand for state accountability in addressing the worsening agricultural and food crisis in the country. We challenge the Marcos Jr. administration to decisively turn its back against liberalization policies and to support local food production by ensuring the full ownership and control of farmers and fisherfolk over the land and other resources. Importantly, we call on all Filipinos to support the plight of our food producers, join them in their fight for land, rights, and justice — only then can we ensure bountiful and healthy lives for all.
Forty year-old research institution Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) reports worsening gender inequality and human rights violations against Filipino women, an alarming lack of commitment of the PH government to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), during 9th periodic review for the Philippines this October.
Neoliberal development policies of liberalization, privatization, and deregulation, along with state repression, resulted in the patterns of violations encroaching upon women’s economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities and discrimination, adding to the difficulties endured by Filipino women.
Economic insecurity, joblessness, and abuse of workers’ rights
According to the May 2023 Labor Force Survey, over 21.14 million Filipino women are “economically insecure”. This includes the unemployed (996,000), those lacking work and income or underemployed (1.899 million), and those outside the labor force (18.248 million).
The number of unemployed women doubled during the pandemic, from 852,000 in 2019 to 1.69 million in 2020. Many women lost their jobs and livelihoods, particularly in sectors that shuttered during lockdowns. By December 2022, an estimated 2.2 million individuals were unemployed, with 1.06 million being women.
Gender wage inequality remains a pressing issue, with women consistently earning less than men. The gender pay gap across occupations ranges from 4% to 44%, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). In a case study by CWR in Northern Luzon provinces, women farm workers receive 28.57% lower wages than men, earning $5.45 compared to men’s $7.25. In other rural communities, women earn just $2.72 for a day’s work.
Due to the lack of viable jobs in the country, many Filipino women are forced to go abroad as migrant workers in low-skilled, low-wage, insecure jobs. In 2019, there were 1.23 million overseas Filipino women workers, 24% more than men.
Abuse against migrant workers also persists. In 2020, the Middle East recorded 4,302 cases of OFW abuse. There were also 23,714 contract violations reported, including passport confiscation and the failure to provide domestic workers with the protections outlined in labor codes and labor protection laws.
Cases of violence and abuse remain high
Most violence victims come from the poorest quintile, 16% of women in the lowest wealth quintile have endured physical violence. Poverty deters many women from pursuing legal action due to the high costs, lengthy procedures, and complexity of the judicial process. Two in five women (42%) age 15–49 who have experienced physical or sexual violence have never sought help to end the violence or told anyone about the violence.
Alarmingly, top officials in the country perpetuate misogyny that could encourage violence against women and contribute to the culture of impunity. Filipino women are also subjected to objectification and sexualization in media, advertising, and politics.
Women and girls are forced into prostitution and various forms of body commodification due to poverty. Increased use of technology coupled with restrictions in mobility during the pandemic also gave rise to new methods of commodifying women’s bodies as “traditional” prostitution transitioned online.
Lack of access to judicial and legal processes
Women also continue to suffer from the slow and ineffective justice system. From July 2016 to December 2022, there were 66 women victims of extrajudicial killings, many of whom are women human rights defenders. There are also cases of enforced disappearances and abductions believed to be detained against their will in military camps and facilities.
As of June 2022, there were 162 women political prisoners and 14,073 women deprived of liberty (WDLs). In the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW), 67% of the detained women are jobless and/or housewives/housekeepers or are in the informal sector with meager income and lacking social protection, and mainly commit crimes closely linked to poverty. These women continue to suffer from congestion and poor living conditions in jail facilities.
Violation of women’s right to political participation
Women’s meaningful participation in public life is vital in ensuring that their concerns and perspectives are integrated into decisions and policy-making processes. Concerningly, instances of harassment against women’s representation persist. Gabriela Women’s Party, the sole women’s political party and sectoral representation in the Philippine Congress, faces ongoing disqualification cases filed by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) with the Commission on Elections.
Attacks against women human rights defenders and civil society
Women human rights defenders who are at the forefront of the fight for land, jobs, wages, public services, and against extractivist projects continue to face direct attacks from state agents. From July 2016 to December 2022, there were 66 women victims of extrajudicial killings. This includes human rights worker Elisa Badayos, killed in 2017; Zara Alvarez, a human rights advocate, educator, paralegal, and health activist killed in 2020; and Leonila Pesadilla, an active member of the Compostela Farmers’ Association and has been vocal in their opposition to major mining projects in their community.
There are also cases of enforced disappearance such as Loi Magbanua, a labor organizer and women’s and LGBT rights advocate, who was abducted along with a fellow labor organizer, and peasant organizers and human rights defenders Cha Pampoza and Elgene Mungcal who went missing in Moncada, Tarlac.
As of June 2022, there were 162 women political prisoners. This includes human rights workers Alexandrea Pacalda and Glendhyl Malabanan, development worker Rita Espinoza, writer and women’s rights advocate Adora Faye de Vera, community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio, and peasant women organizer Amanda Echanis.
The Center for Women’s Resources joins women’s groups and rights defenders in their call to the Philippine government to fulfill its obligation as a signatory to the CEDAW and its local counterpart, the Magna Carta of Women. We challenge the Marcos Jr administration to fulfill the following demands:
1. Respect and fulfill the recommendations of UNHRC member states;
2. Allow Special Procedures and mandate holders to conduct official visits within the Philippines;
3. Undertake a comprehensive review of macroeconomic neoliberal policies; and lastly,
4. Revoke the Anti-Terror Law, Executive Order 70 and disband the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to ensure a secure and supportive environment for the crucial work carried out by advocates for women’s rights and human rights defenders. #
CWR’s full submission to the Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) can be accessed here.
The Center for Women’s Resources joins the Filipino people in commemorating the 51st anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, one of the darkest moments in Philippine history under the Marcos dictatorship. Fifty one years later, women continue to face the same crisis, corruption, and brutal forms of political repression.
We remember the courageous and fierce women of the resistance that continue to inspire us today. We remember trade union activist, Elsa “Liza” Balando, who was killed by military forces; community organizer, Rizalina Ilagan, who was forcibly disappeared; student writers, Liliosa Hilao and Nimfa “Nona” Del Rosario; and Maria Lorena Barros who was instrumental in mobilizing women’s resistance against the Marcos dictatorship.
Tens of thousands were killed, imprisoned, tortured, and were never seen again by their families under the Marcos Sr. regime. More than half a century later, women face the same conditions under the dictator’s son.
The son’s Anti-Terror Law is the father’s Martial Law
In recent months, we have seen increasing cases of use of the Anti-Terror Law against human rights defenders and activists. With its ambiguous and sweeping definitions, it has empowered authorities to label activists and human rights defenders as terrorists or enemies of the state.
Many of the individuals and activists charged by Anti Terror Law, those included in the terrorist list, and those subjected to relentless attacks are rights defenders who are at the forefront of the fight against neoliberal development and repressive state policies impacting women’s and people’s lives.
From July 2016 to December 2022, there were 66 women victims of extrajudicial killings. Amongst them are educators, health activists, human rights advocates, and small farmers opposing destructive development projects in their communities.
Meanwhile, enforced disappearances remain rampant. Labor organizer Loi Magbanua is yet to be surfaced since her enforced disappearance in May 2022. This is the same case with peasant organizers Cha Pampoza and Elgene Mungcal, who went missing in Tarlac. There are also 162 women political prisoners as of June 2022, including human rights workers, development workers, writers, peasant organizers, journalists, and youth. These individuals have been detained without due process, often on trumped-up charges, and are denied their basic rights while in custody. The imprisonment of these women not only silences their voices but also serves as a warning to others who dare to speak out against injustices. The government’s lack of action and transparency in addressing these cases has only fueled public outrage and further eroded trust in the justice system and undermines the country’s “commitment to upholding human rights”.
Despite these relentless attacks and the worsening economic and social crisis, we stand firm, committed, and grounded. It is with the same courage and grit that we reaffirm our commitment to hold tyrants, plunderers, and rights violators accountable. It is in this way that we honor the brave women and men who fought the same battle before us. #