“We need to see their sincerity in responding to our demands for land, jobs, just wages, social services and rights”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Electoral candidates for different national positions expressed their support for the women’s agenda during the Gabriela-led commemoration of International Women’s day on March 8.
The women’s group Gabriela highlighted the need for genuine change in government, in the midst of the election frenzy. The group challenged candidates to raise the level of their campaign to issues that matter most to the people, especially women.
“We have yet to see a presidential candidate who will truly represent the hopes and aspirations of women for their families. We need to see their sincerity in responding to our demands for land, jobs, just wages, social services and rights,” said Salvador.
Candidates under the Nationalist People’s Coalition were present at Liwasang Bonifacio for the international women’s day program: Reelectionist Sen. Tito Sotto, Estelle Osorio representing her mother senatorial candidate and migrant workers rights’ advocate, Susan Ople, and, Rex Gatchalian representing Valenzuela mayor and senatorial candidate Sherwin Gatchalian.
Bayan Muna Representative and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares was also present during the program. He said presidential candidate Grace Poe and vice presidential candidate Chiz Escudero committed to carry the women’s platform, such as the fight against discrimination and abuse.
He said the Makabayan coalition has always supported all advocacies carried by the Gabriela Women’s Party.such as the campaign to stop violence against women, trafficking of women and children, as well as pushing for the comprehensive women’s welfare.
“As one study said, when there is a crisis or calamity, men cannot handle the situation, but women still manage to find food for the children. She lines up for relief goods, and finds ways for her children not to go hungry. Kababaihan ang nagdusa sa panahon ng kalamidad,” (Women suffer most during a calamity.) Colmenares said.
Escudero did not make it to the event but his wife, actress and visual artist Heart Evangelista was present at the program. “I am proud and very happy to be here with you today,” said Evangelista.
She recognized Gabriela’s commitment in fighting for the rights of Filipino women. “I know Gabriela is the only organization that is ready to help women 24/7.”
“Not only for the rights of married women who are battered, but also the rights of mothers who don’t know where to get money for tuition, daughters who don’t know how to further support their senior citizen parents, teachers and nurses who do not have enough salary, and OFWs who sacrifice in going abroad to support their family.”
She encouraged women to unite and live the spirit of Gabriela Silang.
“We are here, together under the heat, because we know we need to fight for our rights. We can do this,” she said.
Poe was also present at the event and announced her victory over the disqualification cases filed against her at the Supreme Court.
“This is not only my victory but our entire nation’s, most especially the oppressed, those who are tired of the system,” said Poe. She said she has been belittled and maligned as a woman in her bid as president.
“But I have the sense of a woman, a mother who has concern over the welfare of our countrymen,” she said.
“Women are not used to bragging,”she said, but she stands for what she fights for, especially if it is for the people she loves,” she added.
But there is more that needs to be done, said Poe. She said many women are still poor. “We need to strengthen programs for women.” She added that women need livelihood and women overseas Filipinos need protection. “There should be lawyers in all embassies and consulates so those who are abused will have someone to turn to.”
“Women are not only meant to stay at home. Together, let us make this 2016 a year of victory of women,” said Poe.
All candidates signed the pledge of unity stating their commitment to serve the interest of women and children.