“Women will hold President Benigno S. Aquino III accountable over the continuing negligence of the victims of super typhoon Yolanda, the worsening poverty experienced by women and their families and the worsening corruption.” – Gabriela
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Criminal negligence, worsening poverty and corruption, these are the key issues that progressive women’s group Gabriela will highlight on March 8, International Working Women’s Day.
Every year, Gabriela commemorates International Working Women’s Day by highlighting burning issues that greatly affect women and their families. This year, the largest women’s organization in the Philippines would highlight the plight of the victims of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) who have been neglected and abandoned by the government of President Benigno S. Aquino III for the past four months, as well as the plight of women, in general, who are sick and tired of Aquino’s negligence and utter disregard for the welfare of the poor in favor of big local and foreign businesses.
Joms Salvador, secretary general of Gabriela said March 8 is the day of accountability. “Women will hold President Benigno S. Aquino III accountable over the continuing negligence of the victims of super typhoon Yolanda, the worsening poverty experienced by women and their families and the worsening corruption.”
Salvador criticized the Aquino administration’s sluggish response to the needs of victims of typhoon Yolanda. “There has been no rehabilitation in the devastated areas in Eastern Visayas. The condition of the survivors of the typhoon has never improved but is worsening instead,” she told Bulatlat.com in a phone interview.
March 8 will also be the fourth month after typhoon Yolanda struck Eastern Visayas. Last January, People Surge, an organization of survivors of the typhoon went to Manila to personally voice out to the government the real condition and the demands of the people of Eastern Visayas.
In a forum, Jessica Danatinao, convener of People Surge and who is also from Leyte and a victim of the typhoon said the affected people in Eastern Visayas have never been okay. “They should go to the different places in the region, people are suffering from hunger. Many still don’t have houses.”
Mothers are poorer
Women and their children suffer more under the government of Aquino, Salvador said. Contrary to the claims of inclusive growth by the government, the Center for Women’s Resources said poverty incidence remains high at 25 percent.
“Despite having an expensive poverty reduction program like 4Ps [Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the local version of the conditional cash transfer program], the poverty incidence did not significantly change from 26.6 percent in 2006. Conservative estimates peg the number of poor Filipinos at 23.7 million. The regions with the highest poverty incidence are the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Bicol and the CARAGA region,” the CWR 2014 Ulat Lila report read.
Salvador also said prices of basic commodities and utilities also continue to increase under Aquino.
Salvador also said privatization of services like health also intensified under Aquino. “Privatization further marginalizes the poor. It worsens their (the poor) conditions by not having access to basic social services like health,” she said. The modernization project of the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) has been awarded and will start the construction this year should the Supreme Court not grant the petition for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) filed by patients and employees of the said hospital.
Salvador said women would also hold Aquino accountable for the gross corruption under his administration. She said that despite claims of the Aquino government that it is taking the righteous path, those who are liable to the pork barrel scam have not yet been punished. “The Disbursement Acceleration Program (worth P1.3 trillion or $30 billion) despite criticisms is still under his office and the president would not even let go of it.”
Why women should join March 8 protest
On March 8, in Metro Manila alone, Gabriela said, they are mobilizing at least 10,000 women from all walks of life to show this government that women are a potent force to contend with.
At 2:00 pm, women from different sectors will assemble at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila. A program will be held until 3:30 and will march going to Chino Roces Bridge (former Mendiola Bridge) where they will have a program until 6:00 pm.
“Women have had enough. Four years under Aquino, the plight of the poor women became even poorer and with the dire poverty, women are more vulnerable to abuse,” she said.
“Let it be remembered that women played an important role in our history, in ousting a dictator and also a corrupt womanizer. We are getting impatient with Aquino’s incompetence, negligence and of being ignored. On March 8, women will send him a strong message that President better gets his act together or face the wrath of women scorned,” Salvador said.