From Canada to the Philippines, Anakbayan-Toronto joins the 2018 International Women’s Day with continued call for justice and genuine change for women at home and abroad. MAKIBAKA, huwag matakot!
Women have remained at the forefront in the fight against feudalism, bureaucrat-capitalism, and imperialism especially in reign of the current US-Duterte regime.
The case of a Filipina found dead in a freezer in Kuwait spotlights the unabated peril of migrant workers. Joanna Demafelis, 29, who left the Philippines for overseas work in 2014, was missing since September 2016 and whose body was mutilated and abandoned. This the latest tragedy of what has been the most globalized, gendered workforce in the world. The Philippine state’s migration apparatus fails to protect its nationals and to confront and resolve the problem of lack of job opportunities at home. A deployment ban is called by President Rodrigo Duterte but this won’t affect the more than 250,000 Filipinos still working in the oil-rich country. The government even targets to broker with other countries for the repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to be sent again to their derision.
Another case is Mary Jane Veloso, 33, a drug-trafficking victim currently in death row in Indonesia since 2015, as the legal battle against her recruiters is still pending. Of the approximately 6,000 people leaving the country everyday, with a labor export policy maintained by the state, majority are young women. “Hale and hearty.” That’s how Duterte describes them.
While matters of the heart are personal, passing laws on same-sex marriage, birth control and divorce is governed by the state.
A divorce bill is gaining momentum in the Congress; however religious groups and various lawmakers are once again voicing opposition. The lack of legislation for divorce is a main reason why women are left no choice but to remain in abusive relations not only affecting them but also their children. The Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from the Vatican, that prohibits divorce. Duterte is uncommitted on the issue, although he remains steadfast to be against abortion.
In Canada, the apparent disregard for dignity and respect for women’s rights is also revealing. Women and girls are subjected to abuse, assault, battery, harassment, injury and even neglect. Just recently, the case of Tina Fontaine, 15, is a portrait of a failed criminal justice system that did not secure a conviction on her behalf, and an inefficient foster care system affecting indigenous children. Her death remains a key factor in pursuing a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
In Toronto, the case of Filipina Carla Abogado, 18, who was killed by an unmarked police cruiser, is another tragic event. A four year-long court hearing is marked by mistrials as the family continued to suffer and find the undercover officer guilty of dangerous driving.
While we join the long march to honour our sisters and value the contributions of women throughout history, it should also be a reminder that women’s issues cannot simply be narrowed down to personal safety, access and opportunity. What we seek is to upend the very structures of oppression and injustices.
Thousands of youth, who are driven by abject poverty, state terror and corruption, and overall worsening condition in the Philippines, are not to be blamed for taking the revolutionary path. With an import-dependent, export-oriented economy, the country is yet to see the genuine change the common people and marginalized sectors deserve.
We stand firmly with Myles Albasin, 21, who together with six others, were arrested and were alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) just because there were firearms recovered from them in central Philippines. Their arrest is alarming since the reactionary military forces have a track record of violent and inhumane treatments of their captives especially women. This is in the context of the Commander-in-Chief’s latest misogynist remark. “Shoot the vagina,” said President Rodrigo Duterte on what to do with capture female guerrilla fighters. It is a striking violation of international humanitarian law. Thus, we resonate the call to resume the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The next round of which is regarding economic and social reforms much needed to solve the roots of decades-long armed conflict in the country.
Rise against fascism and tyranny in the Philippines!
Resist neoliberal exploitation of migrant workers!
Unite for genuine liberation for women and all oppressed peoples!