October 15, 2008
Reference: Zenaida Soriano ( AMIHAN National Vice Chairperson) Cell phone # 09062851569
Tess Vistro (media liaison officer) Cell phone # 09163006226
On World Rural Women’s Day: Filipino Rural Women Declare “GMA Corrupt, Must GO!”
Today rural women the world over commemorate this day amid a world food crisis and an unprecedented global financial crisis that is threatening to devastate the livelihood of millions of of rural peoples around the globe. Filipino rural women commemorate this day amid a deepening crisis in the agricultural sector marked by landlessness, ever growing poverty and hunger among the rural sectors. The latest National Statistical Board (NSCB) data reports that 25 per cent of rural families are below food threshold and that about half of the rural population are poor.
Zen Soriano, AMIHAN Vice Chairperson said: “We are the producers of food, but we suffer from hunger. Women in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines allocate up to 90 percent of their labor for rice cultivation. But instead of giving lands, the government continue to peddle the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), that did nothing but give back the lands and even fishing waters to landlords and foreign corporations. Instead of giving rights to the land we are persecuted, and worst killed.” In the list of victim of extrajudicial killings recorded by Karapatan, more than 50 per cent are rural peoples fighting for their lands!
“Worst, even funds already intended to support farmers livelihood and increase their productivity, such as the Php729M fertilizer fund, Php 3.1 irrigation fund, Php 5 billion swine scam, P 218.7 million hybrid rice scam and the Php 135 million vegetable scam, were used by GMA for her own ends,” Soriano added.
Thousands of people in the rural areas mostly less educated, young women, leave for other lands to save their families escape the quagmire of poverty, only to be faced with various layers of vulnerabilities including sexual abuse.
“President Arroyo, despite the recent economic crisis, pig-headedly refuse to address the fundamental economic problem of backwardness of the Philippine agriculture and landlessness of the Filipino peasants. Instead, it promotes labor-export policy as an economic measure for a quick-dollar-income generation. In turn, the desperation, naivete and lack of resources of impoverished rural women makes these women prey to illegal human trafficking outside the country,” said GABRIELA spokesperson Nere Guerero.
According to GABRIELA, most Filipinos who are victims of human trafficking and smuggling outside the country and end up as undocumented international migrants are women from the rural areas.
Rural women brought with them a scare crow, traditionally used by farmers to drive away birds that feast on their rice plants. Drawing a parallel to GMA who feasted on funds intended for farmers to keep herself in power, the rural women chorused in shouting: Gloria Go Away Never Come Again Any Other Day!
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GABRIELA is a grassroots-based alliance of more than 200 women’s organizations, institutions, desks and programs in the Philippines. We seek to wage a struggle for the liberation of women and the rest of our people.