For Duterte’s first 100 days: A doable agenda for women

25 July 2016

We at the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), a research and training institution since 1982, take the challenge of change by the new President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Although the basic tenets of social transformation still need to be realized, we recognize the window of opportunity in the newly installed Duterte administration to put forward the women’s agenda, which has been sidelined previously by the Aquino administration. We hope that this time, the scenario would be reversed.

We hope to hear from his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) and to see in his first 100 days, the inclusion of our agenda, some of them are the following:

1. Resumption of peace talks and release of political prisoners:

Women take interest in the resumption of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front because the talks will discuss basic issues on social and economic reforms that contain and enumerate the change women need. But an important part of the talks to move forward is the release of 509 political prisoners, especially those identified as consultants in the negotiations. Thirty-seven (37) of the prisoners are women. Some are young mothers with infants like Miradel Torres, and others are elderly such as Moreta Alegre, Concha Araneta, and Wilma Tiamzon. They also have health problems and the unfavorable jail setting worsens their condition. Releasing them will be a trust-building measure by the Duterte government.

2. Start the end of contractualization:

Many of the women workers are in precarious situation as contractual workers. Since 2010, the number of those employed on a daily or weekly basis have increased by 72.8%. The new government should put an end to the “555” or end of contract (End-o) scheme that threatens women’s job security. Safety in the workplace should be ensured so any violations of occupational health and safety standards should be criminalized.

3. Start policies to eliminate violence against women and children (VAWC):

The statistics are enraging: one woman or child is raped every 53 minutes, one woman or child is battered every 16 minutes. Sexual harassment cases have increased 136% in four years (2010 – 2014). We believe that the elimination of VAWC starts by molding the young minds on how to regard women as essential part in nation building and not as sex objects, second class citizens, or commodities. The Duterte government should enforce a curriculum containing gender sensitivity and orientation, which will be taught from elementary level to college level. Services for victims of violence are already spelled out in more than 37 laws for women, including the Magna Carta of Women. What is needed is the political will to implement such laws.

Call for economic independence

We could go on and on to enumerate our extensive demands. But we need to remind President Duterte that substantial change will only be realized if his government does not follow his predecessors who have followed the neoliberal framework of privatization, deregulation, and liberalization. Such framework has failed and has only widened the gap between rich and poor.

Our country should curve an economic and social blueprint that will truly serve the people. President Duterte could make use of his mass influence in arousing the patriotic spirits of Filipinos to declare indepence from a foreign controlled-framework.

An independent social and economic framework can be tackled in the resumption of the peace talks. When the contending parties start to talk peace, women could really say that indeed, change is coming. ###