Tag Archives: Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)

Women’s Groups Decry Violence as Women’s Month Opens

On the second day of women’s month, women leaders expressed their opposition to the policies of President Rodrigo Duterte, including Charter Change, which they say aggravate violence against women.

“The killings on account of President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign continue and will likely increase if his term is extended when the Charter is changed,” stated Jean Enriquez, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) and Philippine Coordinator of the World March of Women (WMW). Enriquez expressed the group’s vehement opposition to Charter Change or ChaCha as the administration party’s proposals reflect the erosion of the Bill of Rights and Social Justice provisions of the 1987 Constitution. “We are currently helping 118 widows, mothers and orphans left defenseless by the government’s war on the poor, but they will rise,” said Enriquez.

Jelen C. Paclarin, Executive Director of Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau stated that: “the Duterte administration has repeatedly disrespected the 1987 Constitution and Magna Carta of Women with his anti-women remarks which are always passed off as “jokes”. These actions only show his deep-seated misogyny that further contributes to the normalization of sexual violence against women and girls. Access to justice has become even more problematic and challenging for women victims of sexual violence especially now that the judicial institutions that are supposed to protect the people and ensure legal remedies for women are also being threatened by this administration. This government has continued to disregard the rule of law and allows blatant discrimination against women without any State sanction.”

Paclarin further added that “no one deserves to be violated and discriminated. We deserve no less!”

The statement is then followed by Lisa Garcia, Executive Director of Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), “misogyny is also about controlling and punishing women who challenge male dominance. This anti-women culture is very evident in our society wherein women who dare to be vocal are made fun of and insulted by people, and their opinions are disregarded by the President himself as he reduces them to mere body parts. Women are attacked with gender slurs, hateful and vitriolic comments, and even threats of rape as a tactic to intimidate and force them into silence. This culture of misogyny creates a chilling effect on every woman’s freedom of expression.”

Judy Pasimio, National Coordinator of LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), stated that the stature of Senator Leila de Lima as senator did not spare her from the vicious and malicious attacks by the President and his men, and has been imprisioned for standing up for the truth and human rights. “Imagine how vulnerable the indigenous women feel right now as they fight for their lands and their rights?” She added that, “out there in their communities, they face armed groups and big corporations forcing them off their ancestral domains for the minerals and natural resources in there.” She lamented that as indigenous women resist, they are branded as “militants or communist-sympathizers – labels which seek to justify harassments, threats and killings of their leaders.”

“With Duterte saying he himself will pick out mining and plantation companies to enter the ancestral domains, this runs parallel to the effort to remove protection of our environment in the Charter Change and we are afraid that violence will intensify among indigenous communities, who continue to resist land-grabbing by corporations, and wholesale theft of their resources,” added Pasimio.

According to Nice Coronacion, Deputy Secretary General of the labor group SENTRO, “for years, workers have been demanding a shift from taxing consumption (a regressive tax system) to one that is based on income (progressive taxation).” She said that “unfortunately, Duterte’s TRAIN, as it is currently crafted, is taking the wrong way.” Coronacion stated that they welcome the lower tax on personal income but rejects regressive impact of excise taxes.

“The workers’ gain in Personal Income Tax (PIT) will be offset in a regressive manner by the imposition of excise taxes on fuel products and the lifting of VAT exemptions in the sale of specific goods and services,” said Coronacion.

“Meanwhile, feminization of labor is increasing and women are in the vulnerable situation in the world of work, particularly contractualization,” added Judy Miranda, Secretary General of Partido Manggagawa. “It should be highlighted that since most of them experienced the 5-5-5 scheme or ENDO, most of them are already tax-exempted but will bear the cost of increasing prices of basic goods and services.” The labor groups asked, “Is having TRAIN worth it if you are part of the working poor? Even if part of the law is giving subsidies to the poor. Now, we have a more delicate issue: What happens with the poor once the subsidies are stopped 2-3 years from now? And even today, it’s not yet implemented.”

“So the key issues of the working women and of the working people have not been addressed. Yet, we are having an on-going debate to amend the constitution to give way for a new form of government that does not even guarantee inclusive development. Studies have shown that there is no correlation between a federal form of government and inclusive development,” said Coronacion.

To this day, proponents of federalism continue to argue that transitioning to a federal structure guarantees more economic activity. With research done by academics and policy advocates in the Philippines and abroad—and for that matter, even our own in-house researchers in the Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN) and SENTRO—we have found no clear correlation or guarantee whatsoever. The form of government has never guaranteed an automatic shift into equitable economic development. If any, they have only affirmed that government form shifts only normally tend to strengthen already-existing institutional features. “If the nature of Philippine institutions already foster anti-development, are we really planning on strengthening those inequalities at the expense of selling us a promise of change,” said the women leaders.

The group invited the public to their action on March 8, International Women’s Day, which will begin at 8AM in front of the University of Sto. Tomas in España. They will march to Plaza Miranda and hand flowers to survivors of EJKs, and will hold a program. Their main themes are “Kabuhayan, Katarungan, Kapangyarihan sa Kababaihan,” and “Rise, Resist, and Reclaim (our rights, our bodies and territories).”

Painted Women Performed Warrior Dance against Violence



To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, women with painted faces and bodies performed a warrior dance at noon today in Quezon City. Filling the streets around the World Scout Jamboree roundabout in Timog, the women denounced the violenceof the current administration, and the institutional violence that “kills” 14 women each day they are deprived of reproductive health services by the state.

According to the women, the Duterte administration’s violence include the drug-war killings, the killing of democracy through patronage of the Marcos burial at the heroes’ cemetery and sponsorship of the Marcos’s return to power, promotion of death penalty, criminalization of child delinquents, non-implementation of the Reproductive Health Law, and sexist attacks on women’s dignity.


“The spate of state-sanctioned killings exacerbated the trauma in women already reeling from impoverishment,” said Clarissa Militante, one of the leaders of World March of Women (WMW) and Focus on the Global South. Both groups are members of iDefend, a human rights network calling for a stop to the killings. According to iDefend, the number has reached over 5,000 and victimized are mostly poor families, leaving women widowed and children fatherless. Human rights groups are now overburdened with responding to psycho-social and legal needs of the families of survivors. “The encouragement of the killings by the President himself emboldened the police to directly take lives, as well as persecute women leaders who dare challenge this policy,” added Militante. She noted that the first human rights defender killed under the current administration is a woman environmental rights advocate, Gloria Capitan.

“The state’s facilitation of dictator Marcos’s burial similarly opened wounds in rape and torture victims among women, and those left behind by the disappeared during Martial Law,” according to Nilda Lagman-Sevilla, Co-Chair of the Familiies of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND). Ka Nilda’s brother, a human rights lawyer who vanished in 1977, is among the 882 desaparecidos under Martial Law. “President Duterte himself should account for this mistake, rectify it, and stop resuscitating a deposed authoritarian power,” she added.

Now, women are being abused online when identified to be protesting against the Marcos burial or critiquing the Duterte administration. It should be remembered that WMW leaders charged the current President with violation of the Magna Carta of Women and promotion of rape culture. Now, the same sexism is being perpetrated by legislators against Senator Leila De Lima, as well as by Marcos and Duterte followers against protesters, according to Jean Enriquez of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW-AP), WMW and iDefend. “Sexual harassment, sexist cyberbullying and rape cases brought to our attention rose in number with the coming to power of Duterte, bringing along Marcos with him,” said Enriquez. However, the women refuse to be cowed.

“We draw strength from our women ancestors who have resisted our subjugation as a people,” stated Nice Coronacion, leader of the youth section of the labour center SENTRO. “We cannot allow the resurgence of a terror state, and we are rising in defiance,” Coronacion added.

“The women vowed to fight for their rights to reproductive freedom, a life of dignity, and a safe and violence-free world for women and their families,” said Ana Maria Nemenzo of WomanHealth.

The women leaders underscored that the recent days after the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani showed that silence and spread of lies which marked the entry to power of Pres. Duterte and re-emergence of the Marcoses, is now being countered by intelligent and truthful narratives, calls for justice and reason from human rights defenders and coming especially from young people in protest actions.

Also leading the symbolic dance as “Pintadas” were women from the Center for Migrant Advocacy, Foundation for Media Alternatives, Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), SARILAYA, WomanHealth, Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB), Idefend, Block Marcos, Coalition Against the Marcos Burial at LNMB (CAMB-LNMB), and individual women who heeded the call for the action online.

Those who were not able to come to the action painted their faces and posted selfies with hashtags #EndVAW, #WomenRising, #StopTheKillingsPh, #BlockMarcos and #Hukayin.

Women Amplify Call to Stop Marcos Burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani and to Stop the Killings


At 6 this evening, women from various groups, many of whom were at the Luneta rally on Aug. 14, gathered at the World Scout Jamboree in Timog, bringing stone markers with names of women victims-survivors during Martial Law. They also lit candles to protest the killings happening in the name of the drug war, now reaching 1,103 as of Aug. 18.

“The killings are reminiscent of the early days of Martial law, which delivered shock and awe with the targeting first of drug offenders,” said Jean Enriquez, Philippine coordinator of the World March of Women. “We do not want our country to fall back to the dark days of the dictatorship that did not recognize the fundamental rights of its citizens,” she added.

The group also opposed the interment of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery). “Such will lay to waste the years of struggle of many women who fought and died during Martial Law,” said Joanne Bernice Coronacion, of SENTRO-Women. “Our fellow worker Lisa Balando was killed by a Metrocom’s bullet in 1971 in front of the old Senate Building, and she is the one who should be recognized as a hero, not Marcos.”

The women brought other women heroes’ names such as those of Liliosa Hilao, the Kalinga women who fought the Chico river dam construction, the survivors of Jolo Burning, Palimbang and Manili massacres in Mindanao.

“We also support the legislative investigation of the extra-judicial killings and are angered by the sexist harassment by the current President of Sen. Leila De Lima, added Enriquez. She lamented that the President consistently harassed women who filed a complaint against the rape joke, to Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno and now, Sen. De Lima. “Such attacks by the patriarch tries to send the message that anyone who stands in the way will be disparaged, but not his co-patriarchs like Marcos,” said Enriquez.

Participating organizations included the World March of Women, Center for Migrant Advocacy, Phils. Inc., Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP),

Focus on the Global South, Foundation for Media Alternatives, I Defend Human Rights and Dignity Movement, Ladies Who Launch, Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), PILIPINA, Sarilaya, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa – Women, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), WomanHealth Philippines, Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau – WLB, and Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE).

Women march against poverty is a march for human dignity


Women group march in Mendiola, Manila / Photo by Borgie Ceniza Balinton

Fourth International Action
World March of Women-Pilipinas

Our march against poverty is a march for human dignity. It is our right to live a life where choices are not clipped by the meagreness of resources available for us, our future not chained to injustices that deprive us the means to live, our roles not imposed by an economic system that value profit over rights.

Poverty is the outcome of systemic abuse brought upon us by greed – corporations excavating mountains, exploiting the lands, uprooting trees, cementing coasts, keeping wages at their lowest, profiting from social services, and at the cost of poisoned communities, displaced farmers and fishers, enslaved workers, prostituted women and children. Greed finds good company in guns and the militarization it represents to ensure that the corporations and elites are protected. Guns come with goons and the patriarchal set-up it represents to keep women silent and subservient to this system.

But we, women, can never be silenced. The World March of Women-Pilipinas refuses to be clipped, chained, and devalued by this system of greed, guns, and goons. Women know the enemies and we shall hold them accountable for bringing more than half of our country into poverty. We seek justice for the poorest families earning barely a tenth of what the richest families earned. We demand response to the declining employment of women, with one-third of employed women working as unskilled workers, mostly in wholesale and retail trade, agriculture and manufacturing, or forced to leave their homeland. Women work in conditions that are highly informal and vulnerable, with tenuous contracts, low pay or earnings, and little social protection.

Landless peasant families earn 148 pesos on the average in foreign-owned agricultural plantations, with women farmworkers earning 15 peso less. All these unjust conditions push women to work as migrants, where often we are treated just the same, with little protection and dignity.

Women know the enemies intend to blind us, passing as laws like the Mining Act but operating like thieves in broad daylight. No gold can blind us to see that mining does not give jobs, does not contribute to the economy, and can never be responsible enough to safeguard the environment and the community. For the past years, mining contributed to less than 2% to the GDP, employing less than 0.4% of labor force.

Mining violates half of our protected areas and two-thirds of the ancestral domains of our indigenous communities across the country. Poverty rates are evidently high in host-communities of mining, with their leaders and rights defenders being terrorized and killed by hired militias. These private armed groups often have the blessing of the state and political clans, in the name of protecting investments. The state should be held responsible for the human rights violations committed by the militias in the mining communities. The political clans and their dynasties should be dumped this coming elections, along with the weight of the rocks and soil that can never be made fertile again due to mining.

Women shall claim back the lands and waters grabbed by these corporations and we shall cultivate and nurture them to address food security instead of profit. Mining and other forms of resource extraction is just one category in land grabs, there are countless others disguising as development interventions. National and local elites have capitalized on programs like ecotourism, industrial agriculture and biofuels, residential and commercial use, to pass off land grabs as legitimate act. Even disaster-affected areas are not spared. Fishing communities were forced to leave coastal areas declared as no build zones due to anticipated effects of disaster, only to find out later that these were being sold to corporations for resorts and commercial use. Meantime, the farmers, fishers and indigenous peoples who dare fight for their lands and territories are treated as law offenders. Their acts criminalized, their rights taken for granted.

On this International Day of Eradication of Poverty, the World March of Women-Pilipinas calls on the eradication of corporate mining, land grabbing, the prostitution of women and children, labor rights violations, and state terrorism as drivers of poverty.

The women’s march against poverty is a march for human dignity. Our dignity lies in securing the rights of peoples to land, water, and territories as sources of their subsistence for the present and future generations. Our dignity lies in equal opportunities for men and women to participate in and benefit from development that does not exploit the environment nor oppress communities. It is with dignity that we shall overcome poverty on our own terms.

October 17, 2015

World March of Women-Pilipinas • Alyansa Tigil Mina • Bagong Kamalayan Collective, Inc. •
Buklod ng Kababaihan sa Olongapo • Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) •
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) • Focus on the Global South •
Freedom from Debt Coalition • KAISA KA • Katutubong Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) • WomanHealth Philippines • Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB) • Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan • PhilWomen on the ASEAN • Sarilaya • Sentro ng mga Nakakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) • SENTRO Youth • Transform Asia • True Colors Coalition • Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE)

The Philippines Should Stop Being US’s Pawn and Warfront


Statement on International Women’s Day:

Today, over five hundred (500) women gathered early in front of the University of Sto. Tomas to mark the International Women’s Day. This was the starting point of their march towards Mendiola where women affiliated with the World March of Women (WMW)-Pilipinas demanded accountability of the highest in command of the recent tragedy in Mamasapano.

The women’s march was joined by human rights groups Amnesty International, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), labor groups such as SENTRO and Partido ng Manggagawa, all calling for peace and self-determination in Mindanao and an end to the intervention in national affairs by the United States.

“The death of transwoman Jennifer Laude in the hands of a US soldier and the death of the child Sarah Panangulon in Mamasapano, are in the same context of US wars,” stated Jean Enriquez, Philippine Coordinator of the WMW. “Olongapo murder suspect Joseph Scott Pemberton’s ship USS Peleliu ensures amphibious US presence in the Western Pacific, while the PNP SAF operation responsible for Sarah’s murder was clearly sponsored by the US war on terror,” she added.

The group underscored the economic interest of the US in Mindanao in particular, the Philippines and the region in general, as the US “pivot to Asia” strategy started in 2011, or the transfer of military resources to the region, coinciding with a Trans-Pacific Partnership Economic agreement. As a result, “women, children, the environment are considered collateral damages,” according to the WMW statement.

“Jennifer’s murder is a hate crime committed by a US soldier who enjoys the protection of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” declared the group. “Even in court, the unequal relations manifest in allowing the attendance of several US military personnel while limiting Jennifer’s side to only her immediate family and her lawyers,” said their statement.

Carrying roses to symbolize their call for peace, the women also wore pink shirts with the slogan “Pagkain, hindi Bala.” They were demanding that President Benigno Aquino III be also held accountable for his role in the tragedy, as reports clearly pointed to his direct knowledge of the operation, beginning with the appointment of suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima and strengthened by their correspondence. “Evidently, the only consideration of this operation was the US’s desire to get Marwan and show a positive development in its war on terror, without regard for the Muslim communities that would suffer as well as the peace process that would be compromised,” stated Virgie Suarez, Chairperson, of KAISA KA.

The WMW and supporting organizations lamented that the ongoing military offensive already displaced 8,130 families, with women bearing the most of the hardships and dangers that go with the need to evacuate. Young women and children become more prone to trafficking and prostitution.

They called for a political and economic solution, not war, to resolve the problems in the area. WMW also called for an end to the VFA and all agreements that “tie the country to an unequal defense relation with the US and make the government an accomplice to the US war crimes in its unending quest for world dominance.”

The program in Mendiola ended with the women’s movement’s emblematic song “Bread and Roses” as the women leaders demanded justice for all victims of US militarism. Similar marches were conducted by WMW members in Cavite, Cebu, Davao, and Gen. Santos City.

Participating organizations included Focus on the Global South, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), LBT groups, anti-trafficking groups Action against Violence and Exploitation, Inc. (ACTVE) and CATW-AP, prostitution survivor groups Bagong Kamalayan and Buklod, migrant groups such as Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA).

Women’s organizations present were Kababaihan-Pilipinas, KAISA-KA, KAMP, the indigenous women’s group LILAK, Piglas Kababaihan, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK),SARILAYA, Transform Asia, WomanHealth Phils., Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB), Welga ng Kababaihan, Women’s Crisis Center, Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE), and World March of Women – Pilipinas.