“We will not allow our families to go hungry, jobless and homeless.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Filipino activists gathered today, International Women’s Day, to protest hunger and violence that the people are enduring under President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Bebenggahin na ng mga kababaihan si Duterte dahil sa mga pinaggagagawa niya,” quipped Joms Salvador, secretary general of women’s group Gabriela.
“Bengga” is a Filipino slang term that means “to shame” or “revenge.”
Filipino activists braved the scorching heat of the sun as they highlighted issues affecting the people.
During the protest action in Mendiola, Filipino activists toppled Duterte in their “Du30 Bengga Blocks” effigy to assail government policies such as its tax reform program and lifting of rice tariffs that “further bring misery to the lives of Filipino women.”
Economic opportunities remain dire for millions of Filipino women.
Center for Women’s Resources said on this year’s Ulat Lila that women workers’ participation has been on a constant decline since 2014. Women, too, are increasingly being employed in the services sector.
Government data also showed that 2.58 million women are employed through so-called short-term or seasonal jobs.
Still, CWR said that paid housework is the main available job for young women aged 15 to 24 who belong to low-income families.
As a result, it is not surprising that women make up 60 percent of Filipinos working overseas.
Quality of living
Due to Duterte’s tax reform, women endure harsher living conditions with the increasing prices of basic commodities and services while their income remain low.
“Rice is too expensive. Instead of having chicken, we would resort to Lucky Me,” a Filipino mother was quoted as saying in the Ulat Lila’s report.
Even women farmers are enduring the impacts of Duterte’s tax reform that resulted to their increased cost of production on one hand, and the lifting of rice tariff on the other.
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas said during the protest that women have gained significant victories as a result of their arduous struggle.
The extended maternity leave, for one, was not handed freely but fought for.
Salvador said, “women are coming together to find their voices and shout as one. We will not allow our families to go hungry, jobless and homeless.”