By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — On Valentines Day, more than 800 women, men and children shook Upper Session Road as they joined one billion people around the world rising to end violence against women and children.
Members of different sectoral organizations, government agencies and individuals heeded the worldwide battle cry to “Strike! Dance! Rise!” in the locally-coordinated activity led by Innabuyog-Gabriela.
In an interview, Innabuyog-Gabriela chairwoman Mila Singson said the dance revolution is a resounding expression of convergence by the people from every walk of life to end the culture of violence against women and children. She said Baguio is one of the many places in the Philippines participating in the global dance revolution where people converge for a single reason, to end violence against women and children.
Singson said that every week, there are reports and complaints of beating of women and children, rape incidents and other forms of violence. She said that raising the awareness of the people is the beginning of the campaign to end violence.
Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Neri Colmenares who joined the dancing here said poverty is the worst form of violence against women and children. He added that with the call for respect of the rights of women and children is the analysis of the causes of poverty in a society that breeds suffering of the people.
Colmenares said the Aquino government has driven the Filipinos into the present situation of extreme poverty, making it the number one perpetrator of violence. He said that it is time for the people to act and end all forms of violence, end violations to the rights of the people.
Meanwhile, Katribu Indigenous Partylist president and first nominee Beverly Longid said that while domestic violence against women and children in the region is undeniable, it is also being worsened by the militarization of indigenous communities especially in areas with mining operations and mining applications.
She said that in the Cordillera, there are cases of rape of women and children where soldiers are the perpetrators. She said Katribu is rising against the exploitation of women and children side by side with its campaign to end the militarization of villages and the respect of ancestral lands and indigenous cultures.
Longid said that no one deserves to be maltreated because of sex, age and gender and no one should not be persecuted on the basis of one’s ethnicity, culture and religious beliefs.
The Katribu party list said that its participation to the One Billion Rising campaign is also its way of honoring the indigenous women and of taking inspiration from their legacy.
Rob Ocampo, children and women’s rights advocate, said there is a growing number of “V-MEN” who support the cause of women and children for respect of their rights and welfare.
Ocampo said that men not only here in Baguio who are famous personalities and private individuals responded to the call of one billion rising. He stressed that it is more becoming of a gentleman to actively participate in the campaign to stop gender-based violence.
Indigenous groups came in their traditional native garb from different provinces of the Cordillera and led the community to a pattong in the concluding dance of the activity. (Northern Dispatch/Posted by