Mindanao women activists: P-Noy administration a failure

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 Oct) — The country’s largest women alliance has given the Aquino government a failing mark for leaving out Mindanao and women’s issues from its priority agenda.

Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan said there was no mention about Mindanao and about women in President Aquino’s state-of-the-nation address and in his new administration’s priority agenda.

The women’s group expects more women to suffer under the new administration because the budget for health and education services has been taken out to finance the P21-billion conditional cash transfer (CCT), the centerpiece of the government’s next year budget — which they said is basically a doleout.

“How can you be sure it will reach the poorest of the poor? How will you identify poorest of the poor?” Ilagan re-echoed the questions lobbed during the budget hearing in Congress.

“We found out during the congressional hearing that the first year of the program’s implementation will be spent conducting training for the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development),” she said. “Do they really need one year to conduct the training? How much of the total amount will be taken out for these trainings, which will no longer reach the poorest of the poor?” she asked.

Ilagan said that the hefty CCT budget, glaring compared to that of the previous administration, will only increase the dependence of the people on doleouts from the government.

She said that except for farm-to-market roads, Mindanao was hardly mentioned in the President’s state-of-the-nation address (SONA).

“Because they’re taking out the budget (for state colleges and universities), where will the state universities look for their capital outlay? He (Aquino) said the school can look for income, this is a go signal to commercialize schools,” Ilagan said. “Even Mindanao was missing in the SONA, except for the farm to market roads and Mindanao has been a major player in the country.”

(In relation to Mindanao, the President in his SONA also expressed hope the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front would resume after Ramadan. Ramadan ended September 9).

Ilagan said the cases of extrajudicial killing, illegal arrest and other human rights violations seem to continue under the new administration from the previous one.

Ilagan said the new administration turned a deaf ear to the women’s groups’ manifesto to release the 43 health workers arrested in Morong in February this year despite the trumped up charges against them. Two of the health workers gave birth in jail. “In contrast to the amnesty program he extended to the soldiers involved in the Oakwood mutiny, he failed to show any sensitivity to the health workers who gave birth in jail,” she said.

Lyda Canson, chairperson emeritus of Gabriela Davao, said that just like the last four administrations, women cannot expect much change from the present administration.

The women’s group remembers on October 28 the first largest protest of Filipino women 27 years ago, when 10,000 women marched the streets of Makati to protest the tyranny of the Marcos regime.

“Women’s emancipation remains an illusion, if we don’t change the political and economic system, ” Canson said. “There can never be real women’s emancipation if the country remains under the clutch of foreign domination.” (Germelina Lacorte / MindaNews)