Women to rise vs violence, poverty, other social issues for this year’s One Billion Rising for Revolution

February 13, 2015

Different groups vow to join once more for the One Billion Rising campaign this time for revolution. <strong>Pher Pasion</strong>

Different groups vow to join once more the One Billion Rising campaign–this time for revolution. Pher Pasion

Now on its third year, the One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign in the Philippines sets the stage once more to rise and dance with the world — this time to revolt against the continuing violence against women and children in all forms on February 14.

With this year’s theme “Rise Against Violence, Poverty and Impunity,” OBR Philippines, led by Gabriela alliance, Gabriela Women’s Party, and New Voice Company, will be held in major cities all over the country. The “main rising” will happen at the Bonifacio Shrine in Manila.

“Impunity is deeply entrenched because the violence we have is state and policy instigated. Revolution is a radical change in consciousness, change in mindset. And our message is we will not stop until we get the justice that long we’ve been fighting for,” said Monique Wilson, theater artist, activist and global director of the One Billion Rising campaign.

It will also serve as a kick-off event for their campaign to end violence, poverty, and impunity and for “truth, justice and accountability” that will highlight the Philippine women’s movement’s commemoration of the International Women’s Day on March 8.

“The worsening poverty in the lives of the Filipino is the reason why women become more vulnerable to violence. If the number of those engage in prostitution, sex trafficking, domestic violence, and others is growing, it is because of the worsening economic condition of women,” according to Joms Salvador, secretary-general of Gabriela.

One Billion Rising-Philippines during a press conference in Quezon City. <strong>Pher Pasion</strong>

Organizers of the One Billion Rising in the Philippines, in a press conference in Quezon City. Pher Pasion

Rising for victims of Mamasapano debacle

Amid the investigation on the Mamasapano bloodbath by the Upper and Lower Houses of Congress, Gabriela echoed the demands of the Filipino people who are “getting more confused rather than enlightened” on the botched operation that took the lives of 44 police commandos, at least two civilians and 18 Moro rebels.

“Impunity is perpetuated by President Aquino’s lack of accountability. Each of his kapalpakan (errors) is someone else’s fault. In every speech he has delivered to explain himself, he pointed his finger at someone else. In the Mamasapano case, it’s ex-SAF (Special Action Froce) chief (Getulio) Napeñas (Jr.) who is the current favorite fall guy,” said Salvador.

According to Gabriela Rep. Emmi De Jesus, the Filipino women refuse to allow the bloodbath in Mamasapano to be just another example of impunity in the country.

“It is very important for the truth and accountability to surface. What is needed is the voice of the people outside the walls of Senate and Congress to call for accountability. We no longer want impunity to happen,” said De Jesus.

According to the Gabriela representative, there is a need to know the blueprint of the operation that killed SAF members and a number of casualties on the side of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and, of course, civilians.

“What is the accountability not only of the Philippine government but also the government of the United States?” pressed De Jesus.

Several media agencies, including Pinoy Weekly, have independently reported on alleged presence of US forces before, during and after the botched operation in Mamasapano.

It is the “US war on terror” that led to the attack in Mamasapano in the expense of the lives of the Filipino people, according to Gabriela.

Salvador said they fear that if no one will be held accountable in the Mamasapano bloodbath, and that the cycle of violence that affects not only combatants in armed conflicts but more so to civilians especially women and children will continue.

Sectors rising

Various sectors also vowed to join the event, bringing their respective sectoral issues from the viewpoint of women’s rights.

Progressive labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) called for regularization of workers and for a national minimum wage, while calling for Aquino’s resignation from the presidency. The labor group hit the continuing practice of labor contractualization, as well as the lack of jobs, and low wages in the country that resulted in neo-liberal policies being implemented by the Aquino administration.

One Billion Rising-Philippines shows their newest dance for the OBR this year. <strong>Pher Pasion</strong>

Activists show their newest dance for the OBR campaign this year. Pher Pasion

Migrante International, an organization of overseas Filipinos and their families, also stood with KMU on the issue of joblessness and low wages. This labor situation, Migrante said, continues to push Filipinos away from their families to work abroad where they suffer from different kinds of abuses like sexual harassment, unfair labor practices, mysterious deaths, and many others.

“We are rising to end the labor-export policy of the Aquino administration. With the 6,000 Filipinos going outside the country each day to work abroad, it is clear that the administration can’t provide jobs for its people and it can’t even protect them when they are overseas,” said Sol Pillas of Migrante International.

Students led by National Union Student of the Philippines (NUSP), meanwhile, called for the scrapping of other school fees that turn educational institutions into “business ventures”. February marks the tuition and other fees consultations in different colleges and universities across the country.

“Higher education cost transcends into higher number of drop-out rates and out of school youths. As students can’t afford education, they are pushed to sell their bodies to pay for their tuition. It is what we called ‘prosti-tuition‘ and it is outrageous,” said Lovely Carbon of NUSP.

Kharlo Manano of Salinlahi Alliance for Children Concerns, called for justice not only the 44 SAF members but also for Moro people, especially the eight-year-old civilian girl who was killed during the Mamasapano operation.

Manano also said joblessness and low wages affects the children.

“Due to extreme poverty, about 5.5 million children today are engaged in early labor practice to cope with the hardship besetting their families. Even the lack of social services, form education and health, affects the lives of these children,” added Manano.