“Our victory symbolizes women who are fighting for their rights, for children and for the nation.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — May 28th was a festive night for Gabriela Women’s Party, the sole partylist in Congress for and by women, as it celebrated its victory in the May 9 elections. The group garnered 1.3 million votes, its highest since its first electoral run in 2004.
Emmi De Jesus and Arlene Brosas, GWP’s first two nominees, pledged to continue to fight for the third representational seat as they garnered more than four percent of the necessary votes.
GWP also ranked second among the partylist groups with the highest votes, next to Ako Bicol Partylist.
De Jesus said they would push to get the third seat in Congress to make the voices of women louder and stronger in Congress, “especially the Moro women.” GWP’s third nominee, Bai Ali Indayla, is a Moro.
De Jesus said poor and marginalized Moro women need all the representation they can get in Congress, for which Indayla is best fit to do the job.
“That is why we are saying this is also a political issue, to have an additional seat, because we are serious and truthful in our advocacy,” De Jesus told Bulatlat in an interview.
In a radio interview Indayla, a Math degree holder, invoked the Carpio formula, which sets three stages for the distribution of seats for the partylist. The formula states that a partylist that gained at least two percent of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall have one seat in Congress.
The first stage gives one seat each to groups which obtained at least two percent of the total partylist votes. In the second stage, groups get additional seats, for every additional two percent they obtained of the votes. A maximum of three seats is allowed per partylist. A third stage follows until the remaining seats for partylist are filled.
She said only 12 groups got at least two percent of the partylist votes. In the second round of distribution of seats, Indayla said, partylist groups with less than two percent votes were given a seat to fill up the 59 seats allocated for partylist groups.
De Jesus questioned the allocation of seat to partylist groups that failed to reach the required two percent votes, according to the Carpio formula.
“We know that there are some partylist that are only meant to obtain economic favors,” said De Jesus. She said percentage-wise, GWP should have a third seat.
On May 20, the group filed a motion for reconsideration and correction of manifest error and proclamation of additional seat.
Meanwhile, Lana Linaban, GWP secretary general said they believe that GWP’s electoral win is a display of women power.
“Our victory is a manifestation that we are indeed number one. This is because our chapters nationwide have persevered and sacrificed to campaign for our partylist, despite limited resources and attacks,” said Linaban during the program.
Unbreakable track record
In its 15 years, GWP has pushed for the passage of laws for women’s rights and welfare, such as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act and the Magna Carta for Women. GWP also co-authored the Comprehensive Reproductive Health Bill.
GWP nominees continue to keep filing bills and resolutions that assert women’s rights, such as Divorce Bill, Expanding Grounds for Legal Separation, Prohibiting Age Discrimination for Employment, Removing Classification among Legitimate, Illegitimate and Legitimate Children, and amendment for Solo Parents’ Welfare Act.
As part of the Makabayan coalition, GWP also pushes for bills for national and sectoral interests, such as the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill.
De Jesus said they will continue to fight for these bills in the 17th Congress. She said they will also push for the Regular Employment Bill. Women, especially the impoverished, are in need of regular work to support their families. They will also push bills that would make social services, like health, more accessible to marginalized women.
De Jesus pledged to continue to work for bills that will benefit women, alongside the ranks of organized women.
Brosas said that they will continue to fight all forms of abuse and face challenges inside and outside the Congress. “We will continue to raise awareness and give strength to women, in organizing and mobilizing. We will amplify the voice of women, children and the people,” she said.
GWP thanked their members, volunteers and their families who enthusiastically and passionately campaigned for the group.
They also thanked supporters and celebrities and personalities that supported their campaign. Present during the victory party were: popular satirist Mae Paner a.k.a. Juana Change, journalist Inday Varona Espina and actress Maria Isabel Lopez.
Brosas thanked Filipinos who voted for GWP, saying that this shows the growing support and trust of the masses to the partylist. “Our victory symbolizes women who are fighting for their rights, for children and for the nation,” said Brosas.
Photos by Anne Marxze D. Umil