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December 6, 2008

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For most of the course of the Philippine history, Filipino women have always struggled to break free from the bondage of prejudice. They have been victims of gender-biased crimes, they were ignored and they were restricted by the image, which was propagated by Jose Rizal in the character of "Maria Clara" in his Noli me Tangere who portrayed a Filipino woman being bound to the works in the home, in the church and in the family. They are reared to accept things with a grain of salt. This identification of Filipino women is a feudal-patriarchal culture inculcated by the Spanish occupation. This was no less the case when the Americans came to the country.

The participation of Filipino women in the social arena began with the examples of Gabriela Silang, Teodora Alonso, Trinidad Tecson and countless others who inspired Filipino women to follow their steps in liberating women.

Lately, the oppression suffered by Filipino women goes beyond the struggle for identity and recognition. The Filipino women's movement continues to battle state repression but with a bitter twist. Filipino women are now battling for their life. Our Filipino women are betrayed by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. GMA has failed to provide Filipino women with decent lives. More and more Filipino women and mothers are dealing with much poverty and hunger. Urban poor women are faced with joblessness, low salaries and high prices of basic commodities. This is also the case for indigenous women in the countryside. Compounded by development aggression set by the government and big companies, the land which is the life of indigenous people is in grave danger.

Since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime assumed office in 2001, around 107 women have been victims of extra-judicial killings to this date. 31 women have disappeared, 271 were victims of illegal detention and 22 are political prisoners. These women are leaders, members and supporters of progressive people's organization and militant party groups. The number is still rising and the harassments continue. Just this last quarter, Mary Grace Delicano, a member and staff of GABRIELA Negros was arrested and charged with robbery in band. Helen Asdolo, secretary-general of GABRIELA Southern Tagalog and Amy Sto. Tomas of Cavite are facing the same fate.

The Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime undoubtedly use terror as its defense and strategy hold her power into place. With the worsening economic crisis in the country and the controversial acts of corruption and plunder in her administration, GMA is extending her power to pacify the threats to her power and kill these burning issues.

This year, the Innabuyog-Gabriela, Gabriela Women's Party-Cordillera and the Cordillera Women's Education Action Research Center are forging greater unity among women in the Cordillera. We continue to fight against political repression. The campaign to stop political persecution on women human rights workers and other activists remains a strong point in this year's celebration of the 16-Day Campaign to Eliminate Violence Against Women. The three women's organizations are spearheading a forum on December 5, 2008 (FRIDAY) from 1:00PM to 4:00PM at the Sangkabalayan Hall, Baguio Cathedral. The forum will be graced with Representative Liza Maza of the Gabriela Women's Party, the only political party of women with the participation of representatives in the 14th Congress in the Philippine House of Representatives. She will educate us with a presentation on current form of violence against women in the light of the worsening socio-economic crisis in the country.

A Round Table Discussion on the Substitute Bill on Reproductive Health follows which will be held at the Rose Bowl Diner, Harrison Road at 5:00PM to 7:00PM. This is in partnership with the office of Councilor Perlita Chan-Rondez. The discussion will present key concepts and points that will enable our understanding and appreciation on reproductive health as a basic right of Filipino women.

The participation of each and every woman in the remolding of the society is no less important. Year in and year out, Filipino women will continue the militancy that this country direly needs. #

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