More than 20M Filipino Women ‘economically insecure’ as Marcos Jr. Admin Turns 1 –CWR

24 July 2023

Contrary to his “Bangon Bayan Muli” campaign promise, more Filipino women are slumped into joblessness and landlessness a year into the Marcos Jr. administration, according to the Center for Women’s Resources’ report presentation entitled: Ambitious Promises and Agendas: The Status of Filipino Women in the First Year of the Marcos Jr. Administration.

“According to the Labor Force Survey in May 2023, more than 21.14 million women are “economically insecure” in the country,” shared Brenda Yasay, CWR Research Coordinator.

She explained that this number includes those who are unemployed (996,000); those who lack work and income or are underemployed (1.90 million); and those who are not in the labor force (18.25 million).

“This means that Filipino women are more vulnerable to hunger, poverty, and violence,” added Yasay. 

However, she added that despite the dire crisis confronting women, Marcos Jr. is busy with senseless and lavish banquets, overseas visits, soliciting foreign investors, looking after cronies, and spreading disinformation and fake news. 

“Also, while the country is buried in record-breaking debt of P14 trillion, Marcos Jr.’s priorities include huge infrastructure projects, strengthening the military, and continued economic liberalization.” she continued.

Wages remain low amid inflation and the rising cost of living

On the day of Marcos Jr’s annual State of the Nation Address (SONA), the 40-year-old women’s research institution highlights how Filipino women are gravely impacted by skyrocketing inflation, reaching 8.7% in January 2023, the highest in the last 14 years.

“The current minimum wage in the National Capital Region is at Php 610. Even if Php 40 was recently added on top of the previous Php 570 minimum wage, it is way below the increase demanded by workers based on the hike in the prices of items, particularly food, electricity bills, services, and other commodities. It is also much below the family living wage of Php 1,161—the amount required for a family of five to live comfortably,” argues Yasay.

The report shows that the administration’s election slogan to rise as a nation remains an empty rhetoric. At the same time, his 8-point economic agenda falls short of addressing the worsening socio-economic crisis in the country. 

‘Development’ for whom?

In the report, it was mentioned that tensions intensified in urban and rural poor communities due to the “development projects” of the Marcos Jr. administration. In March, the Marcos government identified 194 infrastructure flagship projects (IFP) to be expedited. The cost of infrastructure projects favoring large businesses and foreign investors will reach PhP 9 trillion.

The administration is railroading the enactment of the National Land Use Act, the National Infrastructure Program, and the Maharlika Investment Fund — some of the laws that will pave the way for “development projects” for foreigners, the bureaucrat-capitalists, and big businesses. 

“Big-ticket projects such as these directly affect rural and urban communities, placing them in dire situations that harm women, their families, and their livelihoods, and violate their rights. Women often fall victim to the destructive effects of such projects, especially during calamities,” explains Yasay. 

Violence against women and children continues

As the socio-economic crisis worsens, various forms of abuse and exploitation experienced by women and children increase. The inaction or neglect to address women’s needs has been glaring which has led to the escalation of abuse. The women’s situationer reported that in 2022, there were 24,635 reported cases of women and children being abused. 

This equates to about 75 victims each day in 2022, or 3 victims per hour. It remained high at 6,231 cases from January to March 2023. This is still a conservative number because many cases of violence and abuse against women go unreported due to fear, shame, and victim-blaming culture.

“Women remain at risk of being victims of trafficking and prostitution. Women are forced into prostitution and trafficking due to the lack of decent work and a living wage,” explains Cham Perez, CWR Executive Director.

She noted that with the continued militarization of communities and the additional US military bases in the country, the vulnerability of women and youth to become victims of various forms of state-perpetrated abuse also increases. 

Grave human rights violations — like father, like son

Contrary to the declaration of Marcos Jr. to the United Nations Resident Coordinator to the Philippines, Gustavo Gonzales that he will guarantee the protection of human rights, the report shows that Marcos Jr. continues his predecessor Duterte’s terror whole-of-nation approach, with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as his machinery for its implementation and the use of the Anti-Terrorism Law to violate human rights.

“The Marcos Jr. administration forcefully silences women who demand the right to a living wage, agricultural land, decent and safe housing, quality and affordable public services, among others — right out of his father dictator’s playbook,” continues Perez. 

Illegal arrests, detentions, and the filing of trumped-up charges continue. In the latest record of the human rights group KARAPATAN, as of December 22, 2022, there are 812 political detainees across the country of which 162 are women.

The report paints a grim picture of the state of Filipino women during the first year of Marcos Jr.’s administration. Despite promises of progress and development, more women continue to be economically insecure and exposed to various forms of abuse, including state violence. It is imperative for women to raise their voices, collectively take action, and demand accountability for a meaningful change.#

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