War and Militarism and the Scourge of Rape and Trading of Women

kaisaka on militrarism and wars

The wars that the US and its allies carried out after WWII until now in the early 21st century have brought untold sufferings to millions of people and swathes of destruction in different countries.  Despite this, the Trump government is further boosting its war industry, is urging NATO countries and his allies in Asia to raise their military budgets and to join him in more wars against what they consider as primary threats to global security.

 

KAISA KA, a women’s organization working for women’s liberation and social change, heeds the call of the World March of Women for solidarity against these wars and war threats that further engender the scourge of sexual assault, trafficking and prostitution of women.

 

The continuing wars and destruction

 

The purportedly “humanitarian” US-led wars that aimed to get rid of Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction,” stop Libya’s autocratic rule that “authorized military mass orgies,” and get rid of President Assad who “ran a death machine” and “used chemical weapons” against Syrian citizens, are still raging.

 

Investigations have unraveled the imperialist designs of the US and its allies.   They aimed for oil, gas, minerals, billons in gold and cash, Libya’s great source of fresh, precious water that could be lucrative business for foreign companies.  Led by the US, imperialist powers wanted these countries and several others as new markets.

 

These are ruthless wars.  The US, Britain and other allies have used weapons that were among the most lethal and destructive.  They exploit racial, religious, ethnic, economic and other differences to help build, arm and train terrorist groups and sway them to create mayhem in countries where governments are not subservient to the dictates of the US and EU, thereby justifying their armed intervention while saving US and the EU from getting blamed for the atrocities.

 

As these wars turn large areas into barren land, hostile to all living things, they demolish livelihoods, destroy communities, deprive people of clean drinking water, maim, kill and displace millions of people.  These wars ever increase the number of refugees in modern history, bigger than during WWII.

 

In Syria, death toll until 2016 has reached 470,000.  This is the biggest in the so-called Middle East-North Africa (MENA) area.  Its displaced population is also the biggest.  More than 4.2 million have become refugees outside the Syrian border while 8 million more were internally displaced.

 

Rape, trafficking and prostitution worsen under war conditions

 

The wars that came out of the “Arab Spring” are causing menace to women and girls.  Women, when still in the areas of conflict, aside from suffering what the men endure, are often victims of rape, kidnapping and forced marriages especially to members of terrorist groups.  Those who are kidnapped are often sold as slaves or to be wives even at very young age of eight or nine years. Thousands of young girls get married and divorced and remarried, with marriage becoming mere “legal” cover for prostitution.

 

A big number of those who escape to other countries, even to Europe become victims of trafficking.  While men also get raped or traded, women and girls are more prone to sexual assault, trafficking, prostitution and enslavement especially now when governments have made the process of accepting and integrating refugees extra difficult.

 

Threat of More Wars

 

It is revolting that while the US, Britain and leading EU states that pushed and manipulated information in order to justify intervention in these 21st century wars and are, therefore, answerable for the creation of the refugee crisis, are the ones that taking a strong position against accepting and integrating more refugees.

 

It is horrible that despite the catastrophic level of the problems their wars created, they, especially the US are prolonging their involvement in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen while doing actual preparations to open new war fronts to rein in North Korea and Iran and prevent the growth of Russia and China.  Peoples in the region should take the danger of war seriously as the US did not withdraw the Asia-Pacific pivot that primarily aims at China.  Trump has revealed, two nuclear submarines are in Korea.  Two naval fleets patrol the China Sea closest to China and within the contested area of South China Sea.  US forces in Japan are in their strongest level.

 

War at home and open threats to women

 

The Filipino people, particularly those in Mindanao, including the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are in war situation presently, particularly for the residents of Marawi City and adjoining towns in Lanao Sur.

 

Without factual basis and despite the assessment by both the police and armed forces that the terrorist threat is under check and that it can be contained without declaring martial law, Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law and suspended the privilege of writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao starting May 23. This is a de facto declaration of war on over 22 million Filipinos living there.

 

Moreover, Duterte threatens to place under martial law the entire Philippines even just on mere report of terrorist presence in the islands of Luzon and Visayas.

 

As thousands have left Marawi City to seek refuge elsewhere, the president and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is exhorting and cajoling soldiers to exercise their martial law powers, assuring them that he would answer for those who may be accused of committing abuses and other crimes, including rape.

 

He enjoined the soldiers to his lust for power and his contempt for women, unmindful of the fact that those before him were men and women in uniform.

 

He was in his natural shameless, misogynistic self when he said, “If anyone among you rape three women, I will own responsibility for it.” This is how Duterte, the commander-in-chief revs up “his soldiers” for war against women and men who oppose his drive towards dictatorial rule and everyone who would fall prey to Duterte’s lust for absolute power.

 

Now, more than ever, as we join the global fight against US war and militarism, we raise our vigilance and resist the open attempt to establish one-man tyrannical rule, threatening to make terrorism real in the Philippines.

 

No to war and militarism!

 

No to martial law!

 

Let us affirm our global solidarity against war and militarism on June 3, 2017.

Martial Law is a War against Women

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“I will be imprisoned for you. If you rape three (women), I will say I did it.”

This statement displays the President’s impunity—that he is not simply above the law rather he is “the Law”. He is serving the women in a silver platter to the military. That it is okay to rape. He is encouraging the soldiers to commit a crime: one, to kill and two, rape not one but as many women as the soldiers can.

The statement also displays he is the displaying his patron mindset. He is taking responsibility over his “servants” crimes. He is actually saying that the soldiers cannot be held accountable / liable for crimes.

The statement displays his machismo. He sees women as his unequal and mere sex objects. All the more chilling given that women and children bear the ill effects of any conflict or war.

We have seen these conflict areas around the world and even in our own history, rape committed during war is often intended to terrorize the population, destroy communities, and, in some cases, change the ethnic make-up of the next generation. Sometimes it is also used to deliberately infect women with HIV or render women from the targeted community incapable of bearing children.

In this sense, rape is a tool of subjugating a weaker entity to a more powerful one. It is not “a joke”, rather it was a tasteless, sexist and misogynistic comment unless he thinks that soldiers are rapists, like him when he commented on the rape of the Australian Missionary while he was still running for office as a Presidential candidate.

And what makes it more tyrannically that he made that statement now that he has declared Martial Law, unjustifiably declared Martial Law— a time when the military is given and think they have more power or that they are above the civilian authority—which under ordinary situation is supreme over military.

The military knows thay have more power, even if the Constitution operates and the rights of the people are guaranteed. And since the writ of habeas corpus is suspended and the military has power to arrest anybody which was previously a police function, we fear that abuses are likely.

Now more than ever that we should be vigilant. We call on our brothers and sisters in uniform to resist illegal orders and respect the rights of Filipinos.

Together let us Resist Tyranny and Uphold Democratic Rights. ###

Ang Patuloy na Paglaban sa Karahasan sa Kababaihan at Tiranya sa Mamamayan

“Bread and Roses”

Ang Kuwento sa Likod ng Marso 8

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Ngayong ika-8 ng Marso, nagpupugay tayo sa magigiting na kababaihang lumikha ng makabuluhang pagbabago sa katayuan ng babae sa lipunan.  Ginugunita natin ang mahigit daantaon ng makulay, madugo at puspos ng mapanlabang diwang karanasan ng kanilang sama-samang pagkilos upang ihakbang pasulong ang kagalingan ng kababaihan at ng masang anakpawis.

 

Ang karapatan sa pagboto ng kababaihan, pagpapababa sa oras ng paggawa (naging 8 oras mula sa dating 12 oras), pagtataas ng sahod, pagtiyak sa ligtas at makataong kondisyon sa paggawa, ay ilan lamang sa ipinakipaglaban ng daan-daan libong kababaihang manggagawa.

 

Samantala, sa gitna ng pandaigdigang krisis ng kapitalismo, ramdam natin ang patuloy na pagdausdos ng katayuan ng kababaihan.  Unti-unting binabawi ang mga karapatang pinagbuwisan ng buhay ng ating mga kabaro.

 

Sa diwa ng Pandaigdigang Araw ng Kababaihan, ating ipagtanggol ang mga napagtagumpayan na.  Ilagay sa unahan ang usaping kabuhayan, pagkalinga, pagmamahal, paggalang at dangal para sa kababaihan.

 

Ang Diwa ng ‘Bread and Roses Strike’

Ang ‘Bread and Roses Strike’ noong 1912 sa Lawrence (Massachusetts) sa Estados Unidos ang isa sa mahahalagang pagkilos sa buong kasaysayan ng kilusang paggawa.  Inilunsad ng 23,000 mangagawang kababaihan ang welga sa textile-mill factories bilang pagtutol sa pagtataas ng kota at pagpapababa sa sahod ng kababaihan at batang manggagawa.  Tumagal ito ng dalawang linggo.  Marami ang namatay nuong nilusob ito ng National Guard at private and city police.  Nagtagumpay ang welga.  Nagkamit ng dagdag na sahod ang mga manggagawa ng textile mills.

 

Naging malaganap ang pakikibaka ng kababaihang manggagawa sa ikalawang bahagi ng 1800s hanggang mga unang dekada ng 1900s.  Hindi lamang usaping pangkababaihan (gender issues) ang kinasangkutan nila.  Nasa ubod sila ng buong kilusang paggawa, kilusan laban sa gyera at para sa kapayapaan, pantay na karapatan sa kababaihan sa paggu-gobyerno at pulitika, karapatan sa  trabaho, pagtutol sa racial discrimination, at iba pang mahahalagang usaping panlipunan.  Binasag ng mga mapangahas na pagkilos ang larawan ng kababaihang kimi, pambahay at mahina.

International Women’s Day:  Tradisyon ng Pakikibaka at Pakikilahok ng Kababaihan

Taong 1910, iminungkahi ni Clara Zetkin, isang sosyalistang Aleman (German) sa International Conference of Working Women ang pagtatakda ng International Women’s Day.  Tinanggap at pinagpasyahan ito ng mahigit 100 lider na kumakatawan sa 17 unyon at organisasyon ng kababaihan.  Ito ay pagkilala sa mahalagang ambag ng kababaihan sa kilusang paggawa at sa pagsusulong ng karapatan sa kabuhayan, karapatang pulitikal ng kababaihan at kagalingan ng buong lipunan.

Simula nuon, taun-taon nang ipinagdiwang ang araw ng kababaihan sa iba’t ibang  bansa.  Pinagkaisahang itakda ito sa ika – 8 ng Marso   bilang pagkilala at paggunita sa malawakang protesta ng kababaihang Ruso (Russian) nuong 1917 laban sa mga pinsala ng gyera.

 Nuon at Ngayon, Buhay ang Mapanlabang Diwa ng Kababaihang Pilipino

Hindi rin matatawaran ang ipinakitang tapang at tradisyon ng paglaban ng ating kababaihan.  Tampok sa ating kasaysayan ang kagitingan ng mga Gabriela Silang ng mga naunang pag-aalsa laban sa Kastila, Tandang Sora at Gregoria de Jesus ng KKK, Felipa Culala – isang dakilang Kumander ng Hukbalahap.  Nagbuwis ng buhay sa panahon ng Marcos dictatorship at Martial Law sina Liliosa Hilao, Lorena Barros at marami pang iba sa kanilang panahon.

 

Saksi ang Kaigorotan at buong bayan sa paglahok ng magigiting na kababaihang Igorot sa mapangahas na pagtutol laban sa Chico River Dam,  Cellophil project at mga minahan na tangkang sumira sa kalakhan ng mga probinsiya ng Cordillera nuong unang bahagi ng 1980s.

 

Pinagbuwisan ng buhay ng mga karaniwang nanay at lider-kababaihan ng kasalukuyang panahon, ang paggigiit sa mga batayang hinaing para sa pagkain, trabaho, pabahay, lupang masasaka, edukasyon sa kabataan, karapatan sa pag-oorganisa at marami pang iba.

 

Higit na lumaki ang bilang ng kababaihang kalahok ngayon sa mga gawaing pangkabuhayan.  Lumaki ang kanilang kontribusyon sa yaman ng bansa.         Walang sawa nilang ginagampanan ang pag-aaruga sa mga bagong supling ng lipunan.

 

Gayunpaman, patuloy silang dumaranas ng patung-patong na kaapihan.  Biktima ng lahat ng klase ng karahasan – sa tahanan, sa pagawaan, sa simbahan, sa eskwelahan, sa lansangan.  Karahasang dulot ng patriarkiya.  Karahasang dulot at pinapayagan ng estado.  Patuloy silang dumaranas ng diskriminasyon.

 

Sila ang sumasalo sa palo ng pandaigdigang krisis.  Sila ang nasasadlak sa pinakamahihirap na kalagayan sa paggawa… tumatanggap ng pinakamababang sahod… natutulak sa mga mapanganib na hanapbuhay.

 

Upang itaguyod ang pamilya, ilang milyong ina ang napipilitang mangibang-bayan?  Ilang kababaihan ang nasasadlak sa prostitusyon at anti-sosyal na gawain?  Ilang ina ang araw-araw na saksi sa matinding kagutuman at kahirapan?

 

Sa paggunita sa International Women’s Day tanggapin natin ang tungkulin ng pagpupuspos ng laban ng kababaihan.  Panatiliin nating maalab ang diwa ng paglaban.

 

Hindi kayang patahimikin ng dahas ng kapangyarihan ang paglahok at pagtutol ng kababaihan ng maralitang komunidad laban sa demolisyon, ng mga guro para sa pagtataas ng sahod at kagalingang pangkabuhayan, ng maralitang magbubukid laban sa importasyon sa agrikultura at karapatan sa lupang masasaka, ng mga mangingisda laban sa illegal fishing, ng manggagawang kababaihan sa export processing zones para sa pag-uunyon, ng katutubong mamamayan laban sa malalaking minahan, ng mga vendors, construction workers at iba pang mala-manggagawa para sa kabuhayan, ng mga kabataang – estudyante para sa libreng edukasyon at iba pang usapin ng bayan.

 

Kabiagan ken Dayaw!  Pagkain at Trabaho at Batayang Serbisyo, Ipaglaban!  Igiit ang pantay na karapatan at oportunidad! 

 

Kamtin ang Kasarinlang Pangkabuhayan, Paggalang at Dangal para sa Kababaihan!

 

Pawiin ang lahat ng tipo ng karahasan.  Tutulan ang tiranya sa mamamayan.

Relocation

Without enough jobs, most families in NHA’s resettlement sites live miserably.

By Rodelio Faustino

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Adelaida Pen has received her last warning from the National Housing Authority in Balagtas, Bulacan.  The grace period given for her to pay amortization for her unit at Northville 3 has closed.  Her family transferred to this place from Daangbakal in Meycauayan.  If she fails to pay, the loan agreement will be cancelled.  The NHA will padlock her house.

The family of Laida (Pen’s petname) is one of the 30 to whom the NHA sent letters of warning.    Her arrears is now more than P23,000, accumulated since the time they transferred to this relocation site in Bayugo, 2006.

When she went to the NHA office to pay P3,000, the NHA employee did not accept the payment.  “Even if you pay P20,000, I will not accept it.”  She should pay the total amount, she said.

“We have no place to go,” Laida said,” when Kilusan interviewed her.  Laida and husband used to have a sewing shop, making hand gloves in Tugatog, a barangay in Meycauayan, where their house used to stand by the railway.  When they transferred, what used to be an electric sewing machine became pedal-operated.  The relocation site got electricity connection only after two years.  By then, they had sold three sewing machines.  One of her two children got sick and eventually died.  Now, their source of livelihood is the pedicab that her husband drives for passengers.

“Our life here has become more difficult,” Laida said further.  It would be more difficult if we go back to Leyte, we don’t have any piece of land or any property there.”

Northville 3-Meycauayan is one of the NHA’s resettlement sites for the poor along the PNR railroad.  This would give way for the North and South Rail Project that started in 2004.

Housing and resettlement program in the past decade and a half

Resettlement is the pillar of the programs of the NHA.  This involves relocation or transfer of families from lands covered by infrastructure projects of the government and places that are dangerous for residents to other places that are more stable and safe.

Relocation has two categories: one is in-city or within the same city of origin of the relocatees and the other is off-city where the relocation site is in another town or city, usually 20–30 kms from the relocatees’ origin.  Since its establishment in 1975, the NHA has spent the bigger portion of its funds in resettlement programs.

From 2007 until 2011, the NHA had a budget of P29.37 or P5.9 billion per year.  In the past decade (2003–2011), the NHA allotted 85% of this amount for resettlement programs.

The relocation of 100,000 families affected by the North-South Rail Project (Pampanga, Bulacan, Metro Manila, Cavite and Laguna was the most extensive relocation in the past decade.  For this purpose, the government constructed 34 relocation sites from 2004 to 2008 (Construction and Housing, Philippine Yearbook, 2011).  Private developers took charge of the construction under the supervision of the NHA.

A much bigger relocation of ISF’s from danger zones in Metro Manila followed.  Severe calamities such as Typhoons Sendong, Pablo and Yolanda impelled this.

For this purpose, President Noynoy Aquino approved in 2011 a P50-billion housing program for 104,219 ISFs. Its implementation was five years with P10 billion yearly allotment. The National Technical Working Group composed of different government agencies administered this program.  The NHA and the Socialized Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) were the primary implementers.

Aside from preparing new resettlement sites outside of Metro Manila, the NHA outlined a program for the construction of low rise buildings (3–5-storey LRB’s) in Metro Manila and surrounding areas.  The SHFC, on the other hand, implemented a High-Density Housing Program (HDH).

The HDH program depends on the participation of affected families.  Beneficiaries select the site of the housing project.  They prepare the design of the several-storey residential structure.  They also have to take part in the construction.  The NHA awards the houses to organizations that act or actually exist as housing cooperatives.

Since the implementation of the HDH in 2003, the SHFC provided P2.745 billion for 22 HDH in the entire NCR until April 2015 (http: //ovp.gov.ph/ index.php /advocacies/ housing).

In other regions, victims of the earthquake in Bohol and of the Zamboanga Siege needed relocation as well.  Aside from government funds, foreign aid helped build relocation areas.

The NHA estimated that 86% of the ISF’s targeted for relocation from danger areas in Metro Manila were assured of housing at the end of 2015.

The Housing Sector Accomplishment Report (July 2010–December 2015), which the NHA published, stated that the different housing agencies responded to the needs of 894,569 families in the whole Philippines, spending a combined total of P313.607 billion, almost 1/3 of which came from the NHA.

Resettlements in the Greater Manila Area (GMA)

The NHA established 88 resettlement sites in the whole country—45 in the Greater Manila Area or GMA (Bulacan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal) and 43 in different regions from 2003 to 2010.

Most of the projects in the GMA are completed housing projects: 32 that private developers handled, six incremental housing projects and seven mixed projects.  The GMA as well has 25 in-city and 20 off-city sites.

Following this, the NHA built 18 new resettlement sites (or additional phases in some cases) in towns within the GMA but outside of the NCR, and 16 LRBs within Metro Manila, 2010–2015.  Several projects are slated to be finished in 2016 (Pagunsan, NH A 2015).

Integration with the town or community that hosts the relocation

Relocation has immediate effects on the social conditions both of the families that transferred to the relocation sites and on the population of the localities that host the relocation sites.  The hesitance of the host population to the integration of newly arrived relocatees and in opening opportunities makes it difficult for the relocatees to adapt and seek livelihood.

The local population, especially of rural or semi-urban towns, usually complains about the depletion of local resources such as water and the rise in crime rate.

An example is Pandi, a second-class rural municipality, 41 kilometers from Manila.  Sixteen relocation sites that started building since the first decade of the present century are in this town.  Large-scale sand quarrying serving the continual construction in relocation sites destroyed the Pandi River.  Construction in relocation sites was a business that earned profits for local politicians, quarry operators, building contractors.

Water shortage worsened.  Pandi depends on groundwater that continued to deplete last year because of: first, unregulated use by a big resort (Amana) owned by a former mayor of the town (who lost in the 2016 election), and second, the sudden increase in the need of the population.

This is the leading issue of the Save Pandi Movement (SPM).  The SPM took shape through the social media in 2015 and actually had a practical mass movement in April 2016.

The provincial government of Bulacan, and, even earlier, the local government unit (LGU) of San Jose del Monte City, proposed to stop the building of resettlement sites.  They likewise proposed to give to families from the local population the vacant units, which are usually damaged and with parts lost to thievery.

The LGU of Calauan, Laguna had the same stand.  They do not want additional families in the resettlement site.  Disorder and rising crime rate are their reasons (Moya,rappler.com).

 Life in the resettlement sites

Although many relocation sites are flood-free, a few experience flooding.  In Northville 3, floods get higher than a regular person’s height during rainy season.  This situation shows a violation of BP 220 and of Section 5 (Technical Guidelines and Standards for Subdivisions) of its implementing rules and regulations (IRR).  This pertains to the technical guidelines for subdivisions and government housing.  This provides that “The site shall not be subject to flooding nor situated in steep slopes. Sites potentially hazardous or dangerous to the health and safety of users especially children, should be avoided, e.g., along rivers, near dumping site, etc.”

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Flood in Northville 3, Bayugo, Meycauayan City,  residents’ usual problem during the rainy season (xoomclips.com).

The 15-hectare Northville 3 used to be fishponds.  These were reclaimed using mud and soil.  It does not have a strong foundation.  Houses on this land now have cracks.  Floods take place at no particular season. When the Meycauayan River is at high tide and water can hardly pass through the culverts of Northville 3, flooding takes place every day.

Water service is not enough.  The Meycauayan Water District, though, collects exorbitant fees for the water it distributes.

Besides, the row houses do not have provision for expansion.  The units are small as BP 220 has set the minimum floor area at 22 sqm for socialized housing.  After only a few months, kitchens, dish cabinets and wash areas were already out in the shared alleys.  This situation is no different from the crowded shanties in the communities of origin.

A study on the people’s situation in relocation sites (2016) revealed that of the 42 resettlement sites in Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna, some of which were established in the 1990s and have 135,000 resident-families, only seven still have potable water, 35 do not have water or have water shortage or if they have enough water, it is not clean.

In these 42 relocation sites 16 new resettlement sites do not have yet proper supply of electricity after more than two years.

Only 12 have complete health centers (one is private), and 30 are of varying levels of health service (two have health centers without doctors and medicines, five have health services from time to time, four receive extension health services of the barangay, 10 are still constructing their health centers and five do not have any health center or health service available.

More than one-half (24) have schools (15 have high school and elementary and 9 have elementary only), eight do not have any structure for education, and 10 are constructing school buildings (NAPC survey 2016).

Far from, shortage of, sources of livelihoods

Livelihood or the lack of it is the biggest problem.  In Southville 7, Calauan, Laguna (2009), an off-city relocation site, relocated families registered a 43% decrease in their incomes.  Projects both of government and of NGOs were not able to solve this (Ballesteros and Egana). Unemployment was at 20% and underemployment was at 27%.

In another report in 2013, in Southville 7, 900 out of the 2,250 houses in this relocation site that people referred to as “Juan’s Town” were abandoned and wrecked because circumstances forced the occupants to return to Manila to look for a living.

In Northville 3, an investigation on the livelihood of 105 families that are members of the Kilusan ng Maralita sa Meycauayan (KMM) showed that 23.25% are unemployed and 40.935 are underemployed (Kilusan survey 2016).

This is not quite different from the result of the World Bank-funded Social Impact Monitoring (SIM) of the situation of victims of Ondoy and Pepeng.  The SIM studied the socio-economic situation of families that relocated.  Then it compared the findings in two resettlement sites: one, the in-city in Eusebio BLISS, Maybunga, Pasig, and second, the off-city in Southville, Langkiwa Site 3, Biñan, Laguna (Ballesteros).

The monthly incomes of families in off-city resettlement dropped by P3,466.  They had less to spend for food, water and electricity.  They had less access to basic services; it took 18–20 months before getting water connection.  The proportion, however, of the employed to the unemployed remained.  The number of earning women increased (Ballesteros and Egana).

In many cases, the earning family members return to the city.  To save on expenses, they go home once a week only.  This was how former fishers of San Dionisio, Sto. Niño and Tambo in Parañaque coped.  The government relocated them from the coast of Manila Bay to Golden Horizon, a resettlement site in Hugo Perez, Trece Martires City in Cavite.  They went back to fishing and practically made their boats their living or sleeping quarters.

The number of children going to school also decreased even though some schools were within or near the relocation sites. While the design of resettlement sites included health facilities and elementary and high school, some of these were not used for lack of personnel or teachers until these rotted or got ruined (Apostol 2006, as cited by Ballesteros and Egana).

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The absence of potable water is a usual problem in most residential sites, hence residents like this child in an NHA relocation site in Montalban, Rizal have to make do with groundwater pumps (www.quezoncityslums blogspot com)

Worse, poverty drove some women into prostitution in exchange for food, such as the report on Southville, Calauan.  Teen pregnancy and early marriage increased.  The resettlement site registered cases of 11-year-old girls giving birth.  Most of them left the resettlement site, went back to the city and looked for a living (Moya, rappler.com).

Along with this comes the rise in crimes.  With the coming together of different groups, bigger gangs form.  Some of these are into illegal drug pushing.  Some gangs engage in the control of illegal electricity and water connections as power and water services from the government and private companies are severely lacking.

These conditions show that the communities are not at all stable and safe for the families that the government relocated.  Instead, many of the families in resettlements ended up dislocated not only from their means of living and but also from their relocation.

Low collection of amortization

Relocatees fail to regularly pay their amortization because of lack of livelihood.  While this is the common reason, the rate of amortization payment is very low, 17% in in-city and 4% in off-city, according to NHA collection data.  Based on this, collection is only 39% in in-city and 8% in off-city of the NHA’s target to be collected.

Another study stated that amortization collected in resettlement areas is only 30%–35%.  Many of these relocation sites were selected because of their low price and suited to the targeted families’ ability to pay.  The additional expenses for transportation to and from work and the alternative livelihoods of the population to be transferred are just secondary considerations (Nisus 2014).

A big number of relocatees have received cancellation-of-contract warnings and padlocking from the NHA.  A big number have sold their rights. Many have likewise borrowed money from loan sharks and have lost their houses because of their debts.

A member of a barangay council, who wanted to remain anonymous, estimated that in Northville 3, the present residents of 30% of the 2,994 units are no longer the original awardees.  This has become the norm in relocation sites even when the law prohibits beneficiaries from selling their units.  A leader of a people’s organization in Golden Horizon Relocation site in Trece Martires City estimated that original beneficiaries have sold or leased 25% of the total 7,560 units.

Social rights

It is the right of the people to live in a humane, progressive and safe community.  It is their right to have a sturdy house and adequate social services—school, hospital, transportation facilities, adequate water and electricity, parks and playgrounds other recreational facilities, adequate sanitation including an efficient garbage collection or disposal and so forth—so that they can be productive, healthy and safe.  Most of all, they have a right to accessible sources of stable livelihood.

This is the basis of the social right of the poor to low-cost or subsidized housing.  Philippine housing laws provide for some of these requirements.  Since the government limits its responsibilities, however, and relinquish a big part of its responsibilities to private banks and other businesses, public funding for housing and other community services is very little.

Some countries, whether rich or poor, allot 0.7% to 1% of their gross domestic product (GDP) for housing and community amenities (imf.org, Eurostat, 2016).

Croatia allots the biggest with 2.2%.  Housing and community amenities cover a continuing housing, community development, source of water supply, street lighting and research towards improvement of these services (Eurostat, 2016).

The Philippines’ GDP in 2015 was P13,307.3 billion, and if 1% was allotted for housing and community amenities, the amount could have been P133 billion, a far cry from the P10.987 billion that the DBM allotted in 2015 (Manila Times, February 16, 2015), which was much smaller than the P17.161 billion (Budget Allocation for Socialized Housing Projects and Programs, Technical Notes on the 2015 Proposed National Budget).

The Philippines’ allotment for its housing programs was not even 1% of the national budget.  Construction of houses was limited to an average of 104,000 units per year or merely 3% of the assessed housing shortage in 2001–2010 (Nisus, 2014). The government did not have a net addition to the number of houses. It merely replaced or transferred the houses occupied by families that relocated. The other needs of communities are integral to the budget.

These said subsidies that the NHA’s resettlement program provides—water and electricity connection, a developed relocation site (lots at subsidized prices and low-priced), and cash subsidy to cover expenses for transferring—are basic services and are a responsibility of the government.  Families in resettlement areas have a right to these as they are also taxpayers, regardless of whether they pay directly or not to the government.

Only the universal interest rate of 6% could be considered as direct subsidy.  But then, even with lower bank rates this still means that banks and financial institutions that lend or involve in the resettlement program still gained substantial profit from what is supposed to be a social investment.

The Philippines has a big housing shortage.  This is true not only in informal communities but also in regular ones.  In the Bonifacio compound, Paso de Blas, Valenzuela (2013), six out of 10 families or 61% are renting or are living with relatives.  This situation could be observed in almost all urban poor communities in the Philippines (Kilusan survey, 2013).

The shortage has become salient as well in resettlement areas.  Ten years after relocation, one in every five families in Northville 3, are renting or are living with relatives. (Kilusan survey, June 2016).

The government bases its National Shelter Program on these shortages. Lately, pushed by the World Bank, the Cities Alliance led a national conference of all agencies involved in solving the informal settlements in the Philippines.  This conference outlined, June 2014, the National Informal Settlements Upgrading Strategy for the Philippines 2025 (NISUS 2025).

The NISUS aims to free one million families from informal settler status.  This will respond to the need for housing, services and livelihoods of 100,000 families per year in a period of 10 years starting 2015.

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NISUS 2025 is the strategy in “transforming ISF’s into formal urban residents of stable, vibrant and connected communities, communities that can cope with climate change and survive natural calamities.  These should be communities made vibrant by socioeconomic dynamism, standard quality infrastructures and connected to their sources of livelihood and to the whole urban economy by transportation and communication (Nisus Final Report, 2014).”

But the NISUS did not provide for the broadening of the role of the government.  Rather, it provides for the thorough privatization of the housing industry and the housing programs of the government.  Aligned are the reduction if not the wiping out of subsidy and the much-increased role of banks and of the private sector in the housing industry.  This includes the sale of 51–60% of the SHFC to private banks.

It has been the program of the World Bank for a long time to wipe out informality of communities and businesses in the entire world (that it calls “dead capital”).  It wants to connect and make these a part of the formal economy, with little role for the government—with security of tenure or title to their houses, legal water and electricity connections, registered local commerce—to be covered by private businesses and services, banks and institutions (WB, 2007).

People’s organizations in resettlement sites

The law recognizes homeowners’ associations (HOAs) as the representatives of families in relocation sites.  The HLURB has laid down that these organizations should register, have their constitution, report about their status and hold elections every two years.

Local politicians have selected or have supported not a few leaders of HOAs in order to make them their conduit for their political interests.  They use HOA’s leaders as a part of their machinery for political campaigns.  They make them extensions of their political patronage.

This situation reinforces corruption.  This makes it difficult for democratic elections, for the families to put into place HOA leaders that truly represent their will, to happen.

Hence different organizations are becoming alternative formations.  Women’s organizations are the most active.  Most of them have participated, often times in the forefront, of struggles against demolition of their communities of origin.

Quite a number of HOAs are ready to fight for their community’s interests.  This is true despite their direct experience of having a local government that unambiguously abandons them.

Serious movements of the poor and a workers’ movement based in these resettlement sites still exist and continue to grow.  Having the concentration of the poorest families in the Philippines, these resettlement sites are a fertile ground for organizing workers and semi-workers.  Their immediate interests include housing, regular jobs and an upright community.

Struggle for humane living, progressive and safe community

The people need a humane way of living and safe communities.  Life security.  Adequacy in their needs.  A life of dignity.  Safety from whatever calamity.

The relocation program did not provide this.  While it decongested the cities to give way to government projects and real estate developers, beyond this, it cleared and is still clearing the wide and prime public lands where the ISFs were formerly settled to give way to projects of big private banks and corporations under the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme of the government.

Thousands upon thousands of families will continue to experience poverty and dislocation, to the benefit of banks and capitalists in real estate.

A backward social order spawned uneven development of cities and rural areas. It created a big number of impoverished and informal communities.

While Philippine society is dominated by big local and foreign banks within the neocolonial control of imperialist US, national industrialization and agricultural development remain stunted.  This prevents the creation of adequate stable jobs for the burgeoning number of jobless and under-employed Filipinos.

The struggles for a humane, progressive and safe communities should not be actions that are specifically for resettlement localities only.  This should be a part of a more comprehensive movement of workers and other people.  We should fight for people’s welfare and for a free and progressive Philippines. K

Remember the Assault on Women during Martial Law! Resist a Return to Tyranny!

women-victims

The Marcos fascist regime, which meant 14 years of terror to the Filipino people, inflicted some of the most inhuman state-sponsored violence against women (VAW) on the biggest number of Filipinas since WWII.  This should be one big reason for women and for men who honor their wives, mothers, sisters, aunts and grandmothers to oppose historical revisions about that era and resist a return to autocratic rule.

 

As we join the global 16 Days of Activism against VAW on its 25th year, KAISA KA, a women’s organization in the struggle for women’s emancipation and social change, deems it fit and timely to focus on state-sponsored violence against women.

 

Heinous forms of VAW

 

Most of the victims of violence during the dictatorship are in their senior years now and many have died.  Many women had passed away without fully disclosing their stories about gang-rape, rape using foreign objects like pistols, sexual battering and other harrowing experiences in the hands of soldiers, to whom the Marcos dictatorship has practically given license and privileges.  Most of these victims, though, have told their husbands, their best friends, their confidantes.

 

Victims of state-sponsored VAW during those dark years included not only women who were arrested and detained for being suspects of subversion but also young daughters of farmers that soldiers met in the barrios (rural barangays), women working in bars that soldiers frequented, even a few actresses that certain units of the military intelligence were attracted to and thus were declared as “suspected subversive elements.”

 

Soldiers subjected women visiting detained relatives to unnecessary frisking, oftentimes, while throwing obscenities or groping their private parts.  Some would peek at couples in conjugal enclosures.  Pregnant women were not spared.  And some interrogators threatened to rape girl-children of detainees being investigated if they do not “cooperate.”

In the rural areas, countless mothers suffered the anguish of seeing their children go hungry or not being able to feed them on time as soldiers would prevent the movement of supplies they bought from the town markets or would destroy their crops, accusing them of providing food stuff for rebels.

 

The list of the various forms of violence could be very long.  But most heart rending were the several cases of abduction of innocent children of suspected rebels.  Military detachments displayed these children for a while, a psychological ploy, ostensibly to prevent rebels from conducting attacks and to lure the parents to surrender.

 

A Reason for Alarm

           

It is alarming that for several months now, while President Duterte has drummed up total agreement and support for his war against drugs, creating a culture of fear and silence (to question and criticize), some people, especially in the social media were also actively spreading the so-called positive outcomes of martial law and extolling the “appropriateness” of a “strongman rule” for the Philippines. Even as he interspaced his comments with character

 

While he sounded during the presidential campaign like he was merely warning drug lords, dealers, pushers and users so that they could change, it has become clear that he was true to his byword: kill, kill, kill.   A day after his inaugural, the Duterte did not mince words when at San Beda College, he said, “Ang due process ay sa korteHindi ninyo mahahanap yan sa akin.” (Due process is in the courts.  You cannot find it in me). In different occasions, he said, he does not care for human rights.

 

Alleged drug lords, dealers, pushers and users killed is now around 5,000.  Duterte however, bids for a longer time for his “war against drugs” because as he has his own list of suspects, he realized that more “nonhumans” have to be killed.  He is asking Congress to bring back death penalty and to lower the age of minors who could be charged criminally from the present 17 years old to 12-9 years old.  Not content with the present security forces, he has voiced his intent to build a gendarme, “something like the former Philippine Constabulary.”

 

All his critics from heads of States (US and the Vatican) to neophyte Senator Leila de Lima received a verbal thrashing adding character defamation and shaming for the Lady Senator and now echoed by his allies in a “super-majority Congress”.

 

He even threatened the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court about declaring martial law after she instructed judges in Duterte’s list of “drug personalities” to not surrender.  He apologized a few days afterwards but lately, he warned that if lawlessness escalates he would be forced to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.

 

As the killings are continuously desensitizing people, Duterte ushers in Ferdinand Marcos, Jr’s return and rise to power by introducing him in China as “the next vice president, if he wins his case against Vice President Leni Robredo” and by finally allowing the burial of the dictator Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB).

 

Clearly now, Duterte is heading towards a kind of rule that approximates martial law.

 

More reason for women to oppose tyranny

 

Open fascist rule in itself spells danger for women.  When even “rules of discipline” of the state security forces can be set aside in the name of “securing the state”, women become open prey of powerful sections that are licensed to kill.

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A culture of rape-as-punishment being promoted now is ominous of how bad a Duterte fascist rule will be for women. Threatening to rape (and kill) women who question or criticize the president’s ideas and actions has not been as widely used as now and by the very persons promoting through the social media a pro-martial law/pro- strongman-rule culture and adulation of Duterte.  And the president, who never apologized for his ill remark on the rape of an Australian despite strong criticisms from here and from other parts of the world, has never issued a public censure to stop this culture of violence against women.  Instead, his speeches continue to mirror his own disrespect and low regard for women.

 

Misogynist Duterte could make a fascist rule doubly menacing for women. We should resist it now.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Oppose the return of tyranny!

No to all forms of violence against women!

Resist state violence against women!

 

Broadcasting Misogyny and Abuse in Congress: A Mockery of (In) Justice KAISA KA Reacts to Hearings Probing De Lima Links to Drug Trade

 

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As an organization of grassroots women who are believe that women must be empowered fully in order to harness our full potential towards nation-building, Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayaan or KAISA KA are deeply disturbed by what is the rise in rise of abusive behavior online and offline directed towards women.

 

The first, spilling out from well-oiled online machinery favoring the  Duterte administration, young women who were part of the recent anti-Marcos protests were subjected to unprecedented levels of bullying and even rape threats.

 

And the second, spearheaded by allies in Congress who have hijacked the purpose of Committee Hearings that was to probe De Lima’s links to the drug trade in aid of legislation into a venue to pry open, parade, prod and mock the private life of a lady senator.

 

The recent hearings- shows the solons being “ charlatans”, “sexist” and “misogynists”, dwelling and playing on De Lima’s affair with Dayan.

 

Principled solons may have been able to block the showing of the alleged sex video of Senator De Lima, but just looked on as the line of questioning towards former bodyguard Ronie Dayan degenerated to a mockery of a hearing.

 

The law makers have now become the law breakers themselves using the venue to oppress and violate women. The human rights and women’s rights advocates in the Congress should have not allowed the “oppressive questioning” and “malicious innuendos” attack De Lima’s person.

 

End the Abuse and Violence

Three courageous Milabel sisters of the Dominican Republic who opposed then fascist Dictator General Rafael Turillo were assassinated in November 25, 1960 and in whose honor the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was declared back in 1999 by the United Nations General Assembly.

Had De Lima been a man, it would have been entirely different, an exact opposite situation. All the more that we should be alarmed and oppose at all cost– this is state –initiated violence.

Let us remember that a violation done to one woman is a violation that can be done to all. ###

‘Surprise’ Marcos Burial at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani: A grave Historical Injustice

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The Duterte administration will be equated with bringing on the greatest historical Injustice to the Filipino people springing forth from a ruling that exemplifies Duterte’s anti-democratic and autocratic ways.

By their actions, the family of former President Ferdinand Marcos acted like the plunderer and thieves they are as they underhandedly kept the Filipino people in the dark as they capitalized on the Supreme Court decision and the backing of President Duterte to bury the body of the dictator.

Clearly, the Marcoses do not care nor do they feel any remorse for their outright betrayal of the people’s sovereign will which was actualized by their overthrow in 1986. They are mistaken if by burying the body of the dictator, they can bury the crimes along with him.

Yes, he was a soldier but according to a study conducted by the National Historical Commission, his record was ‘fraught with myths, factual inconsistencies, and lies’ such as his medals, his rank and dubious and controversial war record.

He was elected president but one who abused his powers to plunder the country’s coffers, subjected his people to countless rights abuses and to perpetuate him and his cronies into power until the people, exercising their sovereign power, relegated the Marcoses in the dust bins of history.

How can such a man be made ‘worthy of emulation for generations and generations to come’ as mandated under the RA 289, which mandates who can be qualified to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) nor be qualified under the AFP Regulations 161-375 since his record reeks of ‘moral turpitude’.

This senseless and shameful burial repeats several times the shame that the Marcos regime brought the nation, dismantles all honors and praises the world has given to the Filipino people for ending the dictatorship and opens the scars and renews the pain and injuries that the people suffered during the dark years of tyranny of the Marcos dictatorship.

We, from Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KILUSAN) are indignant over this betrayal of the people’s sovereign will. This is a dark day for democracy.

We are one with the growing popular movement that asserts the historical fact that Marcos was a tyrant and do not deserve to be at the LNMB. We enjoin everyone to uphold democracy and freedom and oppose all threats and violations of democratic and sovereign rights of the people. ###

 

Kaisa Ka

November 18, 2016