By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
Around a thousand purple-clad protesters marched from Liwasang Bonifacio to Mendiola in Manila to observe International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8.
Various militant groups, led by GABRIELA, called for the junking of the anti-terrorism bill, the end of contractualization, the release of political prisoners, and the end of drug war killings, among others, during the demonstration.
An effigy of President Duterte carrying a pistol and wearing a shirt displaying the flags of the US and China was also burned during the protest action.
Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Elago, who joined the march, said women, who have a history of abuse and struggles, should fight against further oppression.
One of the biggest threats to women in the country today is the proposed anti-terrorism act, Elago said.
“The Duterte administration is hell-bent on criminalizing the motive to commit terrorism. Even implementing changes to the fundamental political, social, and economic structures will be criminalized under the… anti-freedom bill that is a terror bill,” she said in Filipino.
“Here, we are calling for the abolishment (sic) of the patriarchy or the abolishment of inequality. If we shout that, does that mean we are already terrorists? That is the danger of the anti-terror bill that was filed before the Congress,” she added.
Under Senate Bill 1083 or the Anti-Terrorism Bill, those who join rallies and write about or share articles or images that are perceived to be connected to terrorist activities, among others, may be imprisoned over suspicions of being terrorists.
Elago highlighted the role of the youth in pushing back against injustice.
“The youth do not turn their backs against apparent abuse, lies, and deceit. That is why they are here. Many who are here also want to know more about the issue, because this will help them figure out how to use what they learned in school to help in solving society’s problems,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bahaghari-Metro Manila Spokesperson Bernadette Neri said they are reiterating their call for the recognition of transwomen as women.
“The patriarchal society’s definition of being a woman is in a biological sense only. We are carrying the call to assert the redefinition of the traditional idea of being a woman,” she said.
“To be a woman is to identify as a woman. This may be based on how you are biologically made or not. What is important is that you identify as a woman,” she added.
Lila Pilipina, an organization of former Filipino comfort women, also reiterated their call for justice and for the end of wartime sexual slavery.
There were more than a hundred documented Filipino comfort women, but now, only 15 are still alive and are already in their 90s, said Lila Pilipina Spokesperson Sharon Silva.
Silva said the Filipino comfort women are still demanding the Japanese government for individual and public apologies, individual compensation for reparations, and for the inclusion of comfort women’s issue in official historical textbooks without interference from the Japanese government.