Women's Group Holds Rally at DENR; Denounces 'Disrespectful gov't'
Wearing purple masks, a group of indigenous women trooped to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to call for a stop on violence against women and to urge the public to resist the government’s acts of “sowing fear and terror” in their communities.
Members of Katutubong Lilak marched toward the office of the DENR in Quezon City to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Friday.
The group called out President Rodrigo Duterte who “emboldens other men to objectify and disrespect women” and “encourages killings and violence in our society.”
“So we urge other women to demand – stop violence against women. Respect women human rights. We urge everyone to resist Duterte’s acts of sowing fear and terror in our communities,” said Leticia Gomez, an Aeta from Zambales.
“We experience violence on a daily basis – against our husbands, people from government agencies who refuse to attend to our needs, and those who grab our lands,” she added.
The group also held a program in front the gates of the DENR, where the residents of the Manicani Islands have been camping out for more than two weeks now to protest the large-scale mining operations in their town.
Indigenous women belonging to the group Katutubong Lilak are denouncing the disrespect of the government to women during a rally in front of the DENR office in Quezon City. Photo courtesy of Katutubong Lilak
“Today, we speak up. We, indigenous women, who are among the poorest of the poor, hungrier among the hungry, seek justice for the continuing violation of our basic right to live with dignity,” Teresa dela Cruz said, an indigenous woman from the Aeta community in Zambales.
Remedios Marquez, a Dumagat from General Nakar in Quezon, expressed frustration that people had to camp out for days just to get the attention of the government.
“This government is really deaf, blind and mute to the needs of its people. The President has been holding summits, and state visits, but he does not have the time to listen to the people.”
Angeline Aquino, a Dumagat woman from Bulacan, said that instead of being “obsessed with killings and violence,” the government should focus on providing the needs of the people.
“Why does it not focus on providing livelihood and employment opportunities to its people? Our lives are on the line in protecting our forests and natural resources, and yet we receive very little attention and support from the government. Kabuhayan, hindi patayan!” Aquino said.
The indigenous women came from the provinces of Quezon, Zambales, Aurora, Bulacan and Pampanga. They were joined by other groups like Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau, iDEFEND, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Freedom from Debt Coalition-Women’s Committee, Focus on the Global South, Philippine Movement from Climate Justice, among others. /jpv
by Jhoanna Ballaran