Oro women seek ‘environmental justice’

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Friday, February 14, 2014


AS PEOPLE all over the world celebrated Valentine’s Day with chocolates and roses, the women in Cagayan de Oro City observed the day of hearts by joining the annual One Billion Rising (OBR) movement, with justice for all victims of calamities and environment as their battle cry.

Rhodora Bulosan, regional coordinator of Gabriela women’s party, said that last year’s OBR activity was on awareness on violence against women. This time, it is about seeking for justice over the grave violations committed against women.

“It is high time for women to rise up and call for justice,” Bulosan said, adding the event on Valentine’s Day is part of the global activity called “One Billion Rising.”

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She said women and their children who were victims of “Sendong” are still seeking for their right to decent living.

Bulosan said that in Sitio Macapaya in Barangay Camaman-an, where flood victims are relocated, the survivors are still suffering from the lack of basic social services like electricity and water.

She added that the school is very far from the resettlement area and it is very expensive for the parents and inconvenient for the children.

“Until now, if the government will not send vehicles, the students will have to keep on walking just to get to school,” said Bulosan.

Meanwhile, Keisha Redoble of Student Alliance for National Democracy-Iligan Institute of Technology said the victims of calamities should be granted with their right to education.

Redoble said the children need to walk for miles just to get to school and it is like “adding insult to their injury” since they are victims of calamities who are still picking up the pieces to heal from the tragic experience.

She said education is a right of everyone and it should be granted by the government through more budget allocation.

“Instead of spending for the Armed Forces of the Philippines against an imaginary threat to our security, the government should build schools in relocation sites and add budget to the state colleges and universities,” said Redoble.

Redoble, one of the volunteers helping the calamity victims in the Visayas, said it is high time that the government should focus its attention on alleviating the economic situation of the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

Employment

Tina Cabatuan, a participant of OBR and a Gabriela member, said she participated in the activity because of poverty.

Cabatuan said that poor women remain poor while the rich become richer.

She said one of the culprits of poverty is the unequal treatment of women in terms of employment and unlike men most women find it hard to look for jobs.

Bulosan added that women have "expiration" dates, and when they reach the age limit requirement for a job, they do not get accepted.

Put to trial

Apart from that, Bulosan said agricultural plantations and mining operations in the hinterlands aggravate the effects of natural calamities.

She said justice should be served to all the victims of calamities and it can only be done if the perpetrators of environmental destruction should be put to trial.

“Kinahanglan taralon na sa hukmanan ang nakalapas sa balaud panahon sa Sendong,” Bulosan said.

Women and children are part of the vulnerable sector of society, and they are the ones who the hardest hit during disasters, she said.

During the OBR, Bulosan also called for the protection of rights of women in workplaces and other venues where they are vulnerable to injustices.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 15, 2014.

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