MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 12:12 p.m.) Activists spearheaded by Gabriela said they would defy a police recommendation to bar them from Mendiola, where they intend to stage a rally on Thursday, March 8, to commemorate International Women’s Day.
Communist rebels joined the observance by urging women to “rise up against the US-Duterte regime,” which they accused of “wantonly violating women’s rights” and “unbounded contempt for their humanity.”
And the human rights groups Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi said 20 women had been killed allegedly in the course of the government’s counterinsurgency campaign in “very dangerous, difficult times.”
They listed the fatalities as Emerenciana Dela Rosa, Violeta De Leon, Makenet Gayoran, Jessybel Sanchez, Rita Gascon, Leonila Pesadilla, Nurmayda Abbi, Arlene Almonicar, Cora Lina, Crisanta Petalco, Lolita Pepito, Rechely Luna, Ana Marie Aumada, Carolina Arado, Catalina Castro, Thelma Albanio, Dalia Arrabis, Grace Merilla, Elisa Badayos, and Jennirose Porras.
A letter dated February 24 from Manila Police District director Chief Superintendent Joel Coronal to Mayor Joseph Estrada posed no objection to granting Gabriela a permit for the use of Liwasang Bonifacio but expressed “reservation” about allowing them on Mendiola from 5:30-7 p.m. “due to security risk that it may pose to Malacañang Complex” and claimed “the approval of Presidential Security Group must be obtained” first before a permit could be granted.
The women’s organization said this was the first time in its “decades-long history of protest actions on International Women’s Day” that it has been denied the use of Mendiola and denounced this “as another manifestation of the Duterte regime’s tyrannical policy to silence its critics and prevent the people from expressing their opposition to the government policies that further push them to poverty.”
“Duterte’s disrespect for women, in words and in action, is the strongest basis for women to unite in solidarity and march against his macho-fascist regime,” it said.
Nevertheless, Gabriela said “no barrier can stop the protest of thousands of women from all walks of life” from taking place.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines, in an editorial in its publication Ang Bayan, said: “Sa harap ng pang-aapi, pandarahas, pambabastos at pagmamaliit ni Duterte sa kababaihang Pilipino, wala silang ibang masusulingan kundi ang magbangon laban sa pasismo ng rehimeng US-Duterte (In the face of Duterte’s oppression, violence, harassment and degradation of Filipino women, they have no choice but to rise up against the fascist US-Duterte regime).”
It cited Duterte’s “jokes” about rape and a recent quip suggesting that soldiers should shoot women rebels “in their vagina” to render these “useless.”
“Para kay Duterte, ang kababaihan ay pawang parausan at paanakan lamang ng kalalakihan (For Duterte, women are mere sexual objects and for breeding),” it added.
In contrast, the CPP said, “marami sa mga Pulang mandirigma ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan ay nagmula sa hanay ng kababaihan (many of the Red fighters of the New People’s Army come from the ranks of women),” especially the working class, serving as “commanders, political officers, medics, supply and education officers, teachers,” and “many of the CPP’s leaders are women.”
“Dapat sumulong ang kababaihan sa landas ng pambansa-demokratikong paglaban at isulong ang iba’t ibang anyo ng armado at di armadong paglaban. Nananawagan ang Partido sa lahat ng mga kababaihang manggagawa, magsasaka at mga estudyante, na sumapi sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan at lumahok sa pagsusulong ng matagalang digmang bayan sa buong kapuluan,” the CPP said.
(Women must advance on the path of national democratic resistance and promote various forms of armed and unarmed struggle. The Party calls on all women workers, peasants and students, to join the New People’s Army and participate in advancing protracted people’s war throughout the nation.)