North Cotabato women thumb down PNoy

Jul. 26, 2012

While the women in the labor force seethe under the Aquino administration, the peasant women feel no better.  In fact they have long been disgruntled over what they call a continuing apathy of Aquino administration on their rights and interests. 

Davao Today

KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato, Philippines — If women here were to gauge the state of the country two years into the Aquino presidency, then President Benigno Aquino III surely gets a failing mark.

For one, life, for many of the country’s women has never been harder.  Already battered by price increases, they suffer most from government neglect in social services, primarily health.  When it comes to employment, they are also the hardest hit by unfair labor practices.

Eva Tagotongan of the Nonoy Librado Labor Center (NLLC) cites as an example the case of women banana plantation workers in North Cotabato who are forced to work on seven hectares of land per week.  Work includes de-leafing, weeding and application of chemicals on the plants.

Lisod ni nga quota para sa kababayen-an tungod kay managlahi man ang kapasidad nila kumpara sa mga lalake (This quota system is beyond the capacity of women.  Our capacity is different from our male counterparts),” Tagotongan said.

Incidence of women workers suffering miscarriage due to severe exposure to chemicals have been reported to their office.

Contractualizaton, she added, is also a rampant practice of employers in these banana plantations.

The scheme, according to Tagotongan, has deprived many workers of security of tenure.  Other cases of labor malpractice that their office has documented include payroll-padding, absence of legislated benefits, and poor working conditions, among others.

While the women in the labor force seethe under the Aquino administration, the peasant women feel no better.  In fact they have long been disgruntled over what they call a continuing apathy of Aquino administration on their rights and interests.

Kanamong mga kababayen-ang mag-uuma, ang grado ni Presidente Aquino usa ka dakong bagsak (Peasant-women like me, are giving President Aquino’s performance a failed rating),”

Nida Delima of the peasant group Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Makilala,who joined over a thousand participants in the People’s Sona on Monday said.

The peasant leader expressed dismay over the Aquino administration’s Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), calling it “Patay Patay Pilipino,” or a scheme that to her, ironically spells death to many Filipinos, as government relegates to the private sector its supposed duty to provide for its people.

PPP, as a major economic development of the Aquino administration, Delima said, is causing the ongoing trend of privatization of public corporations and agencies including strategic industries of water and energy.

It shows, she said, government’s sheer apathy to its people’s clamor, an act of abandonment of its supposed mandate to serve the people.

“For failing to respond to the needs of the women sector,” Gabriela Women Partylist’s Ruby Padilla-Sison lambasted the Aquino government.

An indication of this, she pointed out, is the Department of Health data on maternal deaths in the country, which shows 11 cases of deaths everyday.

The United Nation Population Fund’s 2009 report of 230 Filipino women dying of maternal-related complications that year is higher than Thailand’s 110, Malaysia’s 62, and Singapore’s 14 cases.

“The dismal reality of women’s health manifests the government’s poor delivery of health services especially to the women sector,” Sison said, adding that the situation is expected to aggravate with the government’s privatization of public hospitals and other health facilities.

This, despite the strong need for more health facilities and personnel to efficiently deliver health services throughout the country, as recommended by the non-government organization, Center for Women’s Resources in its 2011 report.

Also a picture of misery is the condition of lumad (indigenous) women.

Bai Norma Capuyan, a Manobo leader in areas at the foothills of the country’s tallest mountain Mt. Apo, blames the Aquino administration’s policy of sell-out of the country’s natural resources for their tribe’s fast extinction.

Walay nausab sa sitwasyon, padayon nga ginapalayas mi sa among mga yutang kabilin, (Nothing has changed, we are continuously driven away from our ancestral lands),” Capuyan said.

She cited that the Lopez-owned Mt. Apo Geothermal Project and the ongoing MegaDam 5 project in President Roxas town have forcibly evicted lumads and peasants from their homes and livelihood.

Ang among  mga kasapaan ug mga kinaiyanhan pugos nga gihatag sa gobyerno ngadto sa hakog nga mga pribadong kapitalista (Our rivers and resources have been offered by this government to the greedy private capitalists),” Capuyan said.

The displacement, she said, is expected to worsen as government reinforced plunder of the country’s resources with PNoy’s recent passage of Executive Order 79, a move that seeks to remove the restrictions in the entry of foreign large-scale mining in the country.

Making matters worse, Capuyan said, is the saturation of military personnel in these lumad communities preceding implementation of these unwanted projects.

This she said, leaves a trail of human rights abuses, forcing them to evacuate and eventually be displaced from their ancestral lands.  (Danilda L. Fusilero/

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