THE Duterte government, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has taken its vilification campaign to another level, against progressive organizations critical to its neoliberal policies and its unabashed submission to US and China dictates. In an obviously concerted propaganda effort timed at the 50th anniversary of the New People’s Army, the AFP has launched a media offensive by feeding the media with recycled “communist-terrorist” accusations in various articles in print and online media. Reports from our members also indicated that they have put up tarpaulins with the false propaganda accusing Gabriela and other organizations as NPA fronts.
The motive behind such villification and red-tagging is obvious. The Duterte government and the AFP seek to silence Gabriela and other progressive organizations. They seek to deprive us of the voice of women who have been effectively exposing and opposing their plans to further deprive the people of rights and resources. We have been proven effective, in the streets, in the communities and in the halls of Congress, in exposing corruption and their connivance with big businesses to rake in profits for what should be public services like shelter, eduation, health, as well as water, transportation and electricity. We express outrage at the violation of our sovereignty by the Duterte government’s sell-out of patrimony to China as well as the AFP support to the military intervention of the US.
Since many years ago, the AFP has tried and failed to destroy the integrity of organizations like Gabriela, which has been in the forefront of the struggle against dictatorship and fascism of every regime that sought to push further into poverty and subservience the Filipino people.
In the span of its 35 years of existence, Gabriela has established chapters in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao with thousands of members who believed in upholding and fighting for their rights not just as women but as Filipinos and as human beings. Government policies and programs have long neglected their welfare--peasant families remain landless and women workers are still contractual and/or are receiving less compensation for the same work. Urban poor women who should be part of the labor force are jobless and are perennially delegated to do housework because of lack of job opportunities.
Unfortunately, whatever support we get from foreign grants, the government and the AFP have responded with harassment and fascism. And now, they seek to villify our efforts to support the livelihood of these communities which they have long abandoned.
We urge foreign governments and the public to be more critical and not to be believe the “fake news” peddled by the Duterte government and the AFP. Rest assured, we will continue our mandate to fight for the rights and welfare of women and the Filipino people. (By Gabriela Alliance of Women)