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Consolidating Consensus, Advancing People’s Struggles and Building Alternatives
On March 8, 2016, International Women’s Day, two hundred (200) strong women, coming from different sectoral groups of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) stage their protest to denounce PNoy government’s mismanaged and unfit economic policies. Women call for Care Economy and perform the "Women’s ‘Economic’ Fitness Calisthenics” also to bring forth the challenge to electoral candidates in making our economy fit.
Women as economic managers of Filipino households, decry the multiple burdens they will continue to bear, with Pres. PNoy leaving them a staggering P6.4 Trillion debts (of which P4.16-Trillion alone was borrowed during his term). Women denounce its continued adherence to the flawed fiscal policy that is based on the Marcosian law of automatically paying debts. Consequently, religiously paying the foreign debt according to the harsh terms of the creditor, currently taking up an average of 27.21 percent of annual public revenues automatically earmarked for interest payments, while principal amortization has eaten up an average of 67.61 percent of new borrowings, restraining spending for economic and social services, and leaving little space for funding pro-poor initiatives.
Under PNoy’s term, an average of 48.2 percent of government borrowings from 2011 to 2015 automatically went to amortizing existing debts, while an annual average of 15.6 percent of the national budget were allocated first to interest payments before appropriations for its economic and social programs, projects and activities.
The PNoy government, following conscientiously the neoliberal paradigm, with Central Bank and its Department of Finance seeing inflation as the dragon to be slain, is biased against an active and flexible fiscal policy that would put the focus on job creation, and structural reforms that would raise the incomes of the poor and make them a source of demand to spur economic growth. Also guided by the idea that it is foreign corporations and the rich that are the source of wealth, the PNoy government is stuck with tax, investment, and incomes policies that favor these groups while shifting the burden of providing revenue to the middle class and the poor, including women via VAT and excise taxes.
Mae Buenaventura, FDC Vice President explains, “The taxes collected from the Philippine economy ends up not being re-channeled back as social or economic services, but goes out of the Philippines as payments for the government’s debts. This unresolved debt problem has resulted in the government’s failure to meet its obligations to the people, or social debt as a percentage of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The women are most impacted on the financial and economic hemorrhage the Filipino people is experiencing due to massive debt service requirements.
The President’s social debt in the sector of education and health alone amounts to P7 trillion, with average education spending to GDP at 2.7% from 2006-2012 and 3.66% health spending to GDP (with 1.39% in 2013) as reported in the Philippine Official Gazette. The country continue to fall short from the UNESCO standard of 6% of GNP provision for adequate education for all with only , and the World Health Organizations standards requiring government budget allocations equivalent to 5% of gross domestic product to provide adequate health programs.
Because of misprioritized spending and regressive revenue generation, women’s essential needs have been compromised, leaving them with uneccesary burdens from the meager allocation resulting to the fiscal policy of the PNoy government. Women as nurturers and caregivers, have to take on the multiple tasks for the health, well-being and development of their families, providing for food on the table, ensuring roof over their heads and education for their children.
Women need not die from giving birth as CEDAW and the Magna Carta of Women was passed over the last decade assuring women’s health from birth until death. But the country continue to have higher maternal mortality ratio, for every 100,000 live births in the Philippines, 114 mothers die during pregnancy (WHO, 2015). Mothers continue to struggle with sending their children to school as their efforts are not matched by ample government service.
Women continue to burden their family’s security with regards to their shelter needs, as government’s backlog on housing continue to rise, currently estimated at 5.5 million and projected at 15 million by 2030 (according to the HUDCC report 2015). Around 22.8 million people live in slums in the Philippines (United Nations Commission on Human Rights and Homeless International), of which 1.2 million are children (70,000 of them in Metro Manila) who peddle goods or beg in the streets to live.
The alternative for an economically fit Philippines? Women fight for Care Economy, with an economy and economic life that ensures the provisioning for human life in all its fullness, integrity and dignity. These include not only those involved in what is called production and market economy; but also and more importantly, an economy that includes reproductive and care work . These take place not only in the public domain but also within the context of the family and household, not only within the market but also in the non-market sphere made possible primarily through the unrecognized and un(der)valued labor of women.
The FDC Women believes that economy and economic life is not about just ensuring human survival nor the allocation of scarce resources. The economy should be aimed at providing the material requisites to ensure human life with integrity and dignity and in all its fullness — physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, psychological, social, cultural life.
Today, in celebrating the International Women’s Day, the women fight for Care Economy and demands an end to the UNHEALTHY way of managing the Philippine economy. To exercise women’s rights, the Filipino women are enjoined:
SIPA UTANG! BIGWAS SA BUWIS! TIGIL TAAS NG KURYENTE’T TUBIG. BADYET ITAAS SA SERBISYO! Kababaihan, Isulong ang Mapangalagang Economiya Ipaglaban, Kalayaan sa Kahirapan at Karahasan!
Bistado na ng mga kababaihan ang Gobyernong Aquino!
Hindi na mapagkakaila ang tahasang paggamit nito sa kababaihan bilang “panapal” sa loob ng kanyang programang pang-ekonomiya. Itinuring ang kababaihan bilang pang-ekonomikong kasangkapan (o economic asset) sa isang neoliberal na adyendang nagsisilbi sa interes lamang ng mga higanteng negosyo at elitistang paghahari. Ito ay isang kalakaran na nagpatibay sa pribatisasyon, deregulasyon at liberalisasyon na lalo pang nagpabigat sa pasanin ng kababaihan. Higit nitong nilubog ang mga kababaihan sa kahirapan at pinalala pa ng husto ang dati nang bulnerableng kalagayan nito.
Ang kababaihan ay pagod na sa mga kasinungalingan ng gobyernong ito! Nabuking na nito ang huwad na mga patakarang pangkababaihan na nakabalangkas sa mapanlinlang na “Tuwid ng Daan”!
A year and a half after Yolanda swept the Visayan Region, rehabilitation and recovery for the affected 171 municipalities and cities in Regions 4A, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Residents of the 12,222 barangays (in 44 provinces, from 591 municipalities and 57 cities) continue in struggling for survival as recovery and rehabilitation efforts remain slow and rigged with irregularities. The cries of the survivors over the neglect and outright marginalisation, prioritising private-sector in its rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts continue to hound President Aquino to this day.
Just months after the year of commemorating the climate change devastation, no less than Sec. Panfilo Lacson resigned from OPARR, with a soared frustration of the PNoy administration in the direction of the Yolanda recovery and rehabilitation efforts. Dissolving OPARR and instead delegated the reins to Sec. Balisacan of the National Development Authority (NEDA) , to continue its private-sector led rehabilitation efforts, President Aquino dismissed the people’s demand for a people-centered Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan (CRRP) , wherein the NEDA convened Salubungan, with a public-private partnership model under the government’s Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program (ASAPP) . ASAPP aims to tap the skills and resources of the poor in enabling private enterprises to expand their production capacities and markets.
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) Women’s Committee is officially rejecting President Aquino and his Elite Rule. The women leaders of FDC coming from the ranks of more than 250 member organizations of peoples movement, multi-sectoral groups, labor federations, fisherfolk and peasant groups, urban and rural poor, lead women’s group join the collective call for new politics, new economy and system change. The women of FDC, prominent in the fight against neoliberal policies and patriarchy and recognized lead of women’s actions for gender and economic justice, is now at the forefront and enjoins all Juanas to demand culpability of the PNoy government on its perpetuated tragedies besetting the Filipino people.
Women say no more to his reign of bungled elite rule with political and economic blunders, piling one after another. Failures characterized by his tenacity for arrogance and myopic governance, as he conjured his “Tuwid na Daan”, but failing to deliver his promise of economic and social reforms. But instead exonerating himself from the Mamasapano tragedy, consistently being stubborn in his justification of the PDAF and the Pork Barrel system, despite being rendered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. He proceeds with embracing neo-liberal prescriptions for the economy such as deregulation, privatization, and liberalization continue to govern detached from the people he had sworn to serve.
ANG sistematikong karahasan sa kababaihan ay nananatili at lalo pang nagiging marahas dahil sa palpak na Gobyernong Aquino. Ang kapalpakang ito ay patuloy na sumisira sa dignidad at kaga-lingan ng kababaihan.
Ang Freedom from Debt Coalition kaisa ng World March of Women-Philippines sa paggunita ngayong Pandaigdigang Araw ng Kababaihan (March 8, 2015) , ay nagluluksa sa lumalawak na karahasan sa kababaihan. Ang araw na ito, na sana’y nagsisilbing selebrasyon ng kagalingan at dignidad ng kababaihan, ngayon ay nagsisilbing paalala kay Juana na Kumilos para sa Bagong Ekonomiya, Bagong Politika, Bagong Sistema. Huwag payagan ang sunod sunod na palpak na gawain ng Gobyernong Aquino, sa ekonomiya, polisiya at pamamahala, dahil sa kanyang baluktot na sistemang NEO-LIBERALISMO. Ang patuloy nitong polisiya sa giyera (sa Mindanao) , kung saan ang mga pagsasanay ng US military ay walang patid, ang pagdagsa ng US troopsna nagta-tago sa ilalim ng huwad na polisiya ng kapayapaan at ang pagturing na ordinaryong krimen ang naganap na pagpatay kay Jennifer Laude ng akusadong sundalong Amerikano, ay dahilan ng pag-luluksa para sa mga Pilipina.