On International Women’s Day, progressives decry gov’t neglect amid price hikes

Women protesters call government attention to increasing prices of food and other staples (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)

By SHARLYN VIVO
With reports from Jonas Alpasan
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Progressives commemorated the International Women’s Day, decrying government neglect as prices of oil and staples continue to soar.

“In the Philippines, Filipino families suffer uncontrolled oil price hike for 10 consecutive times, which the latest ironically hit on 8th of March itself. The neoliberal Oil Deregulation Law that allows oil companies to peg their prices according to their whims,” women’s group Gabriela said in a statement.

Protesters, however, were blocked by the police along Recto Avenue.

They then proceeded to Liwasang Bonifacio for a program, with speakers tackling various issues such as on the plight of political prisoners, the need for wage increase, and in ensuring that there will be no return of another Marcos to Malacañang.

“It is not true that the youth has no dreams like what the police said. The Duterte regime crashed the future of the youth,” Gabriela Youth National Spokesperson Shane Ganal said during the program

Plight of women farmers workers

In a statement, women farmers group Amihan, along with consumer group Bantay Bigas and Anakpawis Partylist, said the farm gate prices of palay or unhusked rice have fallen to P10 per kilo in Zambales, P12 in Pampanga and Occidental Mindoro, P15 in Nueva Ecija, P16 to 17 in Camarines Sur, Cagayan, Pangasinan, Surigao, and other provinces per their monitoring from March 1 to 7.

Cathy Estavillo, secretary general of Amihan and spokesperson of Bantay Bigas, said that with the increasing prices of fertilizers and oil, palay prices should be bought at P20 per kilo.

“Even with a rice liberalization law, it is the task of the government, through the Department of Agriculture, to intervene,” said Estavillo, adding that if farmers remain buried in debt, “this could affect the production cycle and the country’s food security and self-sufficiency.”

This, she said, is proof that the Rice Liberalization Law, which lifted the limit on rice importation as President Duterte’s supposed answer to lower rice prices, only resulted in the deterioration of livelihoods of farmers.

The low farm gate prices of palay are worsened with the increasing oil prices. Amihan said that at least 200 liters of diesel are needed to irrigate a hectare of agricultural land during an entire planting season.

During the protest action, Dona Miranda of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura said that women agricultural workers continue to press for decent pay.

UMA said that per the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) there remains a glaring eight-percent pay gap between men and women who are paid a daily wage of P310 and P286, respectively.

Still, the agricultural workers group said the pay can hardly sustain a family’s needs amid the increasing prices of staple goods and services.

“The long struggle of women in the countryside to be acknowledged for their rights to land and safe conditions to work remains,” Miranda said.

Double burden on women

Women protesters want junking of oil deregulation law (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)

In a statement, Cham Perez of the Center for Women’s Resources said that women, often household managers, are “doubly-burdened by skyrocketing prices of basic commodities amid joblessness and depressed minimum wages.”

She also pointed out how the pandemic has taken a toll on women’s welfare.

“Loss of jobs coupled with multiple lockdowns and lack of access to transportation has limited women’s access to maternal and reproductive health services. Domestic abuses were also expected to rise during lockdowns and women had much less access to services at the height of the pandemic. All these have caused stress and anxiety to women, who had to find means for the family to survive everyday,” said Perez.

The morning program ended with effigies of President Duterte and presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. behind bars as protesters called for justice. (JJE, RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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