2 young women activists & environmental defenders latest victims of state terror in Central Luzon

2 young women activists & environmental defenders latest victims of state terror in Central Luzon

The Center for Women’s Resources raises alarm over the recent abduction of human rights and environmental defenders in the Philippines. Last September 2, two community organizers, Jonila Castro, 21, and Jhed Tamano, 22, were abducted by four armed men in Barangay Lati, Orion, Bataan. 

The two young women had been experiencing surveillance and harassment while conducting an investigation in the community regarding the impacts of the Manila Bay reclamation project on fisherfolk’s livelihood and flooding in the area. The two were preparing for relief operations and consultation in communities in Bataan, days before they were abducted. 

At least 23 land reclamation projects have been approved in Manila Bay, an important fishing ground and hub of marine biodiversity in the country. These projects in the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Cavite have caused the displacement of coastal communities, the decline of fish catch, and the deforestation of mangroves, ultimately contributing to the decline in fisherfolk’s livelihood. The permits for the projects were completed under the Duterte Administration between 2019-2022, these builds are linked with Chinese construction company China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC).

While the Marcos administration has ordered an indefinite suspension of 22 major land reclamation projects in Manila Bay, this is not enough to address the long-term impacts of these projects on the livelihood of fisherfolks. It is also crucial to recognize that this suspension was the result of the relentless and persistent advocacy efforts of local rights groups and civil society organizations.

What is also concerning is the surge in acts of violence and aggression targeting community organizers and environmental rights defenders who oppose the reclamation project. The abduction of Castro and Tamano is only the recent spate of these attacks. In October 2019, Cora Agovida, then spokesperson for Gabriela Manila and a campaigner against land reclamation was illegally arrested and detained for two years. Three other anti-land reclamation activists Ram Carlo Bautista, Alma Moran, and Reina Mae Nasino were arrested in November of the same year.

The Center of Women’s Resources joins the families, fellow volunteers, and anti-reclamation groups in demanding the safe return of Jonila and Jhed, in calling to stop attacks against community organizers and rights defenders, and in putting an end to state-sponsored terror. #

Women’s group sounds alarm over lack of transparency in OP budget deliberations

Women’s group sounds alarm over lack of transparency in OP budget deliberations

The Center for Women’s Resources raises alarm over the swift termination of budget deliberations for the Office of the President (OP) amid significant concerns over the misallocation of Filipino taxpayers’ money to bloated confidential and travel funds.

Within ten minutes, the House leadership moved to terminate budget deliberations for the OP purportedly out of “parliamentary courtesy”. Last week, the same was accorded to Vice President Sara Duterte when the budget deliberation was concluded in less than 30 minutes. This long-standing tradition of parliamentary courtesy extended to high-ranking government officials must stop. The practice clearly only favors a few high-ranking individuals over public interest and undermines the principles of transparency, accountability, and responsible fiscal management.  

The President and the House need to be reminded that they bear a solemn responsibility to exercise prudence and transparency when allocating and utilizing Filipino taxpayers’ money and the proposed OP budget does not seem to align with responsible and careful management of financial resources.  

The proposed budget of the OP constitutes 1% of the total FY 2024 NEP. This includes P4.56 billion for Confidential and Intelligence Funds and P1.4 billion for travel expenses. Aside from the requested budget, the OP will be in charge of P733.2 billion worth of Special Purpose Funds whose program allocations are not defined. 

If passed, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will hold a whopping P739.1 billion worth of Presidential Pork for FY 2024, 42.5% larger than that of 2023. This is bigger than the combined budget of the Department of Health (P199.45 billion), Department of Agriculture (P105.91 billion), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (P209.66 billion). It is concerning how questionable budget proposals, highly susceptible to corruption and wasting of public funds, are easily approved while subsidies and economic assistance to the poor continue to receive a meager portion of the budget. 

The Center for Women’s Resources joins rights groups in scrutinizing the proposed budget of the Office of the President, and in demanding the rightful allocation of public funds for social services and addressing the worsening economic crisis.


Solidarity to the Rohingya people!

Solidarity to the Rohingya people!

The Center for Women’s Resources stands in solidarity with the brave Rohingya women and people as we mark the 6th anniversary of the Rohingya genocide. Today, we honor and remember the countless lives lost and the suffering inflicted upon them.

We condemn the atrocities committed against the Rohingya community, particularly women, and demand justice for the grave human rights violations. Our fight for justice is not only a demand but a necessity to ensure accountability for those responsible – the Myanmar military and government.

Beyond seeking justice, we also recognize the urgent need to address the root causes of this systemic violence and persecution. Plunder and extraction of resources played a significant role in violating the rights of the Rohingya people. The richness of natural resources and fertile land of the Rakhine region has attracted economic interests seeking to exploit these resources, including logging, mining, and agriculture companies. We condemn this plunder, extraction, and land grabbing that fuels and perpetuates violence and discrimination. 

Likewise, we urgently demand immediate support for the Rohingya people who continue to endure unbearable conditions within overcrowded refugee camps devoid of basic necessities such as clean water, healthcare, and education. We pledge to stand alongside the Rohingya people, to advocate for their rights – including their right to citizenship, to seek reparation, and ensure their right to safely return to their homeland. 

Finally, we reaffirm our commitment to support all forms of resistance of all the Myanmar people against the military rule and authoritarian regime. The resistance movement in Myanmar represents the struggle of an entire nation, including the Rohingya people, in fighting for justice and democracy. The people of Myanmar deserve to live in a society that upholds their fundamental rights, values their diversity, and promotes peace based on social justice. #

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. 

Read more

Workers Unite! Fight for living wages and better working conditions!

1 May 2023

On the occasion of International Workers’ Day, the Center for Women’s Resources pays tribute to all workers of the world – women and men, who create the world’s wealth, and yet are appropriated the least. 

In the Philippines, workers receive meager wages. The highest wage set in the Philippines is in NCR pegged at P570.00. With rising inflation, the real wage now only amounts to P483.00 (March 2023). In other regions, where the mandated minimum wage is even lower, the situation is worse, where inflation is even higher. In the Bicol region, the real wage is only P290.37 from the current nominal wage of P365. In Western Visayas, it is only P362.90 from its nominal wage of P450. In the Mimaropa region, where some municipalities are now reeling from the impacts of the oil spill, the real wage is P279.74 from the P355 nominal wage.  

On the other hand, the wealth of the few richest businesses in the Philippines continues to grow. According to Forbes Richest, the richest families had a “robust recovery” where their combined wealth grew by 30% from $60 billion to $79 billion (Php3.94 trillion) in 2021. The gap between the rich and the poor in the country continues to increase amidst declining income and livelihoods.

Women workers bear a disproportionate burden of exploitation and oppression under the current monopoly capitalist system. Women face systemic discrimination and are often relegated to low-wage jobs with little or no social protection and benefits, while also facing prevalent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.   

Attacks against trade unionism and blatant violation of workers’ rights to freedom of expression and association are on the rise as the government enacts and implements policies that restrict workers’ right to organize and engage in collective bargaining, preventing them from pursuing better wages and working conditions.

Now more than ever, workers, along with the rest of society, must unite to fight for living wages, better working conditions, social protection policies, and the right to collective bargaining. It is only by fighting together and demanding these fundamental rights that we can ensure that every worker is able to work safely and with dignity.