JUSTICE FOR BELLE*! JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF STATE-PERPETRATED VIOLENCE!

JUSTICE FOR BELLE*! JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF STATE-PERPETRATED VIOLENCE!

The Center for Women’s Resources joins the call for justice for Belle*, a 15-year old victim of kidnapping, torture, and rape by elements of the 59th IBPA between July to August 2020.

Last January 21, Belle, together with her mother, has come forward and sought help from women’s organizations and human rights institutions to speak against the abuses she and her family has experienced in the hands of military and paramilitary forces in the past years. They also filed cases against civilians, including a DSWD officer from Lopez, Quezon, for serious illegal detention.

Belle’s mother, Ofel, is a member of Coco Levy Fund Ibalik Sa Amin (CLAIM – QUEZON), an organization of coconut farmers who have long been subjected to red tagging and forced surrender under the e-CLIP Amnesty Program of the NFT-ELCAC. After her ordeal in the hands of her perpetrators, Belle and her family continued to receive threats from state forces.

Rape, and other forms of violence, are used as tools for repression by the state to instill fear against the people, especially women and children, to suppress clamor for their basic rights. It has been used as a form of intimidation against community leaders and their families. In the last six years, state-perpetrated abuse against women and children have become more prevalent, with no one less than President Duterte blatantly enabling such violence, through his repulsive and misogynist remarks on rape and violence.

CWR has monitored not less than 81 police and military officers who have been involved in at least 55 cases of abuse against women and children, including at least 33 cases of rape, perpetrated by police and the military since President Duterte was sworn into office in July 2016 to the present.

Just last January 15, another state perpetrator from the QCPD Crime Laboratory Office was arrested for rape and child abuse against a 17-year old girl form Quezon City. There were also at least seven other state-perpetrated VAWC cases reported since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Center for Women’s Resources continues to stand with Belle, her family, and all victims of state-perpetrated abuses. We remain steadfast is our commitment to forward the call to end violence against women and to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.


*Name withheld for security purposes

Stand united against development aggression and state-sponsored attacks! Fight for land, food, and justice on International Rural Women’s Day!

Stand united against development aggression and state-sponsored attacks!  Fight for land, food, and justice on International Rural Women’s Day!

The Center for Women’s Resources joins rural women, peasant leaders and advocates in the call to defend peasant women and resist rural development aggression on the commemoration of the International Day of Rural Women today.

Majority of people in the rural areas in the Philippines are peasants and indigenous peoples who have long been suffering from landlessness and land-grabbing, inequality, and displacement from their homes and livelihood. Aside from these, rural women and girls suffer multiple burdens of domestic work, violence and lack of social services such as health and education.

It is ironic that while the UN’s theme “Rural women cultivating good food for all” signifies the crucial, yet often undermined role of rural women in ensuring food security, the global food systems is persistently dominated by a corporate-driven agricultural agenda. This resulted in even more hunger, poverty, and health crises, amid the pandemic.

Since the Philippines’ accession to the GATT-WTO Agreement on Agriculture three decades, ago as well as the country’s commitments to the International Monetary Fund-World Bank (IMF-WB) group, past and present government’s laws and policies forward liberalization in the agriculture sector in the name of “global competitiveness” and “free trade.”

The Philippine government’s subservience to the neoliberal agenda has done nothing but to secure superprofit for multinational agricultural corporations from the blood and sweat of farm laborers, small farmers and fisherfolk. Multinational agriculture giants such as SUMIFRU in Mindanao rake in profits as agricultural workers suffer poor working conditions and depressingly low wages.
A women farm worker from Nagkakaisang Manggagawang Kababaihan ng Sumifru shares, “Ang working conditions sa SUMIFRU… walang kasiguraduhan sa benepisyo. Kontraktwal ang trabaho, at mahaba ang oras ng paggawa. “Dahil sa mahaba ang oras ng trabaho, kulang na kulang ang oras sa mga anak at sa bahay…Hinggil naman sa safety sa lugar ng pinagtatrabahuhan, nakakalanghap po kami ng hazardous chemicals at walang sapat na proteksyon.”

In addition, foreign loan-driven large-scale infrastructure projects in the countryside plunder the country’s natural resources while destroying the ancestral lands and cultural heritage of indigenous people. It poses risks and irreversible damage to their communities and sources of livelihood.
The construction of Jalaur River Dam in Calinog, Iloilo, a Php 11.2-billion mega dam construction project under the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure program, Build, Build, Build, will result in massive dislocation and flooding in the surrounding communities. Around 17,000 Tumanduks will lose homes, lives, and livelihood, and at least nine communities will be submerged. Surrounding areas will also be more prone to landslides and flooding. Moreover, heightened military presence in the area has sowed fear and unrest among indigenous communities. In addition, on December 30, 2020, nine IP leaders who strongly campaigned against the dam in Calinog and Tapaz were killed and 16 others, including six women, were arrested by the PNP and military who reportedly served dubious search warrants and planted firearms and explosives as pieces of evidence.

As the economic and political crisis worsens, state forces point their guns towards rural people’s resistance. According to AMIHAN, of the 340 farmers killed during the Duterte administration, 44 were peasant women. Sixty-five (65) of the 81 peasant women political prisoners were imprisoned under Duterte.

Relentless state-sponsored attacks, red-tagging, arrests and killings did not stop rural women from leading their communities in activities and campaigns to respond to their needs. In General Nakar, Quezon, women farmers of Kiday Community Farmers Association are leading organic farming and training for food processing initiatives to ensure their food and incomes.

These practices of organic farming, communal gardens, community-based healthcare, as well as bungkalan allowed them to provide sustenance for their communities. They have employed sustainable alternatives to collectively combat hunger and lack of support. They have also launched campaigns for the Php 15,000 agricultural subsidy and aid for those affected by the pandemic. Together with other sectors of society, they have marched hand-in-hand against state terror.

On the International Day of Rural Women, we reiterate our demand to the government to respond to the urgent demands of rural people. We enjoin all advocates, rights defenders, and supporters to stand in solidarity with rural women in the fight for land, food, and justice for all. #

𝗪𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻’𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗰𝗵 𝗡𝗚𝗢 𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱𝘀 𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗿𝗺 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗽𝗼𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗲-𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗽𝗲𝘁𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗲, 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘀 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗔𝗻𝘁𝗶-𝗥𝗮𝗽𝗲 𝗟𝗮𝘄

𝗪𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻’𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗰𝗵 𝗡𝗚𝗢 𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱𝘀 𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗿𝗺 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗽𝗼𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗲-𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗽𝗲𝘁𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗲, 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘀 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗔𝗻𝘁𝗶-𝗥𝗮𝗽𝗲 𝗟𝗮𝘄

The Center for Women’s Resources raises concern against another police-perpetrated rape of a female rider in a checkpoint in Mabalacat, Pampanga on October 8.

Police-perpetrated violence against women has been a systemic issue, despite promises of reforms in the PNP. CWR records at least seven reported cases of state-perpetrated violence against women since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 to the present, including the rape-slay of a minor by two policemen in Ilocos Sur last year, and at least two cases of police-perpetrated rape against women who have been apprehended for violating quarantine measures. There have also been reports of “sex-for-pass” especially during the enhanced community quarantine. Men in uniform have abused the strict implementation of lockdowns to further violate women’s rights.

CWR also notes that there have been 56 police officers who have been involved in 33 cases of abuse against women, including 16 cases of rape during the first two years of Pres. Duterte in office, from July 2016 to March 2018.

Pres. Duterte with his long list of disparaging remarks against women, blatantly enables perpetrators to commit violence against women. He himself has repeatedly and proudly violated women, and has never shown remorse in doing so.

CWR expresses utmost support in the passage of the amendments of the Anti-Rape Law. Higher penalties need to be imposed on perpetrators who gravely abuse their power and commit such heinous crimes.

Women and children who are victims of violence have suffered too much, with the delays in the pursuit of justice, much more when perpetrators are in uniform. We must remain vigilant in holding perpetrators accountable and ensuring that those who continue to support such acts be removed from power. #

Women from different sectors celebrate International Working Women’s Month by collectively fighting for their right to health, livelihood and emancipation

Women from different sectors celebrate International Working Women’s Month by collectively fighting for their right to health, livelihood and emancipation

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the triple burden experienced by women as main actors in childbearing, homemaking, and wage-earning. Disguised as resiliency, women are frontliners and victims of a broken system. Filipinos have continued to demand financial aid, food, mass testing and free vaccines, but the Philippine government disregarded them and instead imposed a militarist lockdown. 

The longest military lockdown resulted in the biggest annual economic contraction since 1947 at 9.5% (2020), exceeding the economic plunge brought by the Marcos dictatorship, as well as the Asian and global financial crises. Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFW), which keeps the bankrupt economy afloat, decreased by 0.9% compared to that of 2019.

The number of virus infections continue to grow alongside the numerous human rights violations committed by law enforcers themselves. At present, the administration spreads fear by displaying armed military and police personnel, legitimized through Memorandum Order No. 32, Whole-of-Nation approach (Executive Order No. 70) and the Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL). The anger that the administration only strengthened the collective power of the Filipino people and the women’s movement.        

Not long after the declaration of the nationwide community quarantine, workers began finding themselves robbed of their sources of living. According to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), more or less 700 factories of car parts, electronics, industrial, and consumer goods in Luzon temporarily closed. Shopping malls and restaurants ceased regular operations as well. About 400,000 drivers lost their jobs after banning public transportation. This sudden shutdown of companies and establishments left 7.2 million individuals jobless, 2.4 million of them are women, in the middle of a pandemic with little to no aid received from the national government. Filipinos barely survived through meager government relief and initiatives done by fellow citizens, people’s organizations, and NGOS; jeepney drivers begged for food in the streets, women shifted to online selling and other means to earn and provide for their families.

Various schemes were done by factories and large companies in attempts to avoid their responsibilities to their workers. Many women workers are still in a “floating status” with no assurance and information on their job status. Factories producing essential goods continued their operations but did not provide transportation for their laborers who were then forced to walk for hours to and from work. Shifts became “rotational”, and many workers did not receive overtime pay. In some companies, 12 hours of work was compensated with Php300-Php600 per day. The implementation of strict health protocols became an added burden to the working force as they had to pay for their own swab tests and medical clearances due to the absence of mass testing. Those with COVID-19 symptoms were asked to observe a 14-day quarantine that was counted as “no work, no pay.”

Contractual laborers do not have benefits, and thus no economic nor health protection from their employers during this pandemic. For those who were allowed to work from home, electricity and internet bills were shouldered by the workers, resulting in additional costs to their household’s meager budget. The inability of the labor force to keep up with the health crisis and increasing costs of basic needs is met with the campaign of Php100 immediate wage relief to help the working class survive through the pandemic.

Even before the pandemic, the health services of the Philippines were inadequate due to the limited state funding and support. One of the most impacted are health workers, seven out of which are women, who were exploited through low wages and poor working conditions. Majority of hospitals remained under private ownership. During the first few months of the pandemic, there were already calls for strict and efficient contact tracing, and use of medical solutions to fight the virus before it became uncontrollable. The lack of clear and proper information dissemination resulted to discrimination experienced by health workers in their various communities, thought as carriers of the virus. Private hospitals were exposed selling donated PPEs to their health workers. After almost a year of the nationwide lockdown, about 14,000 health workers tested positive with COVID-19.

Filipino farmers are considered as the “food security frontliners” of the country but they remain as the most neglected sector, experiencing grave hunger and poverty. Still unable to recover from the eruption of the Taal volcano in January, farmers attempting to find work in surrounding cities were faced with a new problem having imposed the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon. This brought a halt to the planting and harvesting in the agricultural sector. Checkpoints hindered agricultural products from arriving to markets in the urban areas. Tons of goods were left to rot, farmers and fisherfolk fell deeper into debt. The pandemic was especially difficult for women farmers and their families, who did not have their own land. In 2020, the total agricultural output of the country fell by 3.8%. Meanwhile the price of pork reached its highest within two years. According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics the price of rice fell upon the implementation of the Rice Liberalization Law. In 2020, the average price of local rice was Php18.78 per kilo. Vegetable farmers decided to not continue the production of vegetables due to the cost of transporting their goods to trading centers.

Despite the numerous shutdowns, harassment and deception towards the indigenous people (IPs) and the violation of their rights persisted. Limited information regarding the virus reached their communities. Due to development aggression and land use conversion, Lumads were forced into construction work and various jobs to afford food. Not all IPs received emergency relief from the national government; majority of the aid they received were initiatives from NGOs and CSOs. Indigenous women continue to be impacted by development aggression projects. At present, 276 mining claims and 124 energy projects are approved in the Cordillera Administrative Region. Non-stop quarrying, mining and deforestation continue to damage the country’s natural defense as seen in the effects of the recent typhoons in Bicol, Quezon, Cagayan, Rizal, at Surigao del Sur.

Women working in the informal sector — owners of sari-sari stores and food stalls, manicurists and pedicurists, domestic workers, are also impacted with the loss of their livelihood due to quarantine restrictions. Unlike those in the formal sector, self-employed women are usually not covered by labor regulations and social protection. It was recorded in April 2020 that 2.6 million lost their jobs in the informal sector, many of whom are women. Under the guidelines of the social amelioration program, said workers are to receive a Php5,000-Php8,000 cash subsidy but according to the interviewees, many only received SAP once or some not at all. Issues hound the implementation of the program — names missing in the list, issues in identifying qualified recipients, discrimination when only one in each indentified household or roof can receive even oif two or more families are residing in such household. On the other hand, the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program was allocated only Php20 billion, almost the same amount devoted to the NTF-ELCAC.

More than half of Filipino migrants are women, concentrated in low paying jobs with high risk of abuse. More than 400,000 OFWs returned to the Philippines since the beginning of the pandemic. Aside from the increased working time of domestic helpers, they were also robbed of their weekly day-off. Expenses for purchasing facemasks and alcohol are also shouldered by the migrant workers. Many did not receive any aid from their host country nor the Philippine government. This affected the Filipino families that greatly depended on the earnings of their OFWs. To add, according to the report of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the number of OFWs who tested positive for the virus reached 14,389 cases and 954 deaths (February 2021).

While the country suffers in a deep economic crisis, human rights violations remain rampant. The Center for Women’s Resources recorded the arrest of at least 54 women human rights defenders, activists, farmers and youth from January 2020 until February 2021. It was also noted that eight women human rights defenders were killed last year, including teacher, paralegal and human rights advocate Zara Alvarez. The militarist lockdown was used as a front to continue the red-tagging of individuals and organizations by the state, harass farmers, and abuse indigenous people. This administration’s hands are stained with the blood of two newborns, children of political prisoners and mothers Nona Espinosa and Reina Mae Nasino. The regime’s fear of women is made apparent through the disqualification case against Gabriela Women’s Party and terror-tagging of the Makabayan bloc by the NTF-ELCAC. Journalists from alternative media sources are also attacked for reporting truths. Said arrests include Lady Ann Salem, arrested on Human Rights Day, and Kimberlie Quitaso from and Khim Russel Abalos from Northern Dispatch charged with cyberlibel for an article on the Chico River Dam heroes’ monument. Last February 15, AFP-PNP raided a retreat house of Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) Philippines Southern Province in the University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu city. The “rescue mission” was an illegal arrest of two volunteer teachers and students of legal age with trumped up charges. Lumad Bakwit Schools are products of the militarization, destruction and bombing of schools in Mindanao ordered by the Duterte administration. Youth Lumad only aim to continue their right to education and take part in the development of their tribes.

While the efforts of the administration are focused on suppressing and silencing expression and resistance, Filipino women continue to defend their democratic rights through arousing, organizing, and mobilizing. Initiatives were made to express unity and solidarity, be it online or on the ground — to demand economic relief, mass testing, support for frontline healthcare workers, food producers, and workers. Both in rural and urban areas, they joined barricades, picket lines, bungkalan and other forms of creative protests to forward women and people’s agenda and raise their call for accountability and justice.  Extreme hunger, violence, and poverty push oppressed women to join arms with the basic sectors to forge a new system that genuinely serves the people. 
Indeed, for women, solidarity and a change in the broken system of neoliberalism are the only antidotes to COVID19 and lockdown.#