Int’l Women’s Day protest held in Legazpi and Naga City

LEGAZPI CITY – Bicolana Gabriela led the marching of progressive groups in two major provinces in the region respectively to protest against the current economic crisis, human rights violations, and women oppression on International Women’s Day, March 8.
The groups in Camarines Sur marched along Plaza Quince Martires to Plaza Rizal in Naga City to participate in the mobilization. Meanwhile protesters in Albay marched from Bicol University College of Industrial Technology (BUCIT) road going to Peñaranda Park to continue its program in front of Albay provincial Capitol.
“Women must unite! Together with Bicolana Gabriela, we will reiterate women’s stand for increased wages, regular work and the right to organize and unionize,” said Nica Ombao, Bicolana Gabriela regional coordinator. “Almost five decades later, the people are once again faced with dictatorship when another Marcos is currently sitting in Malacanang.”
The Philippines has the highest inflation rate in Asia and the highest in 15 years. The inflation rate reached 9.0 percent at the end of January from 8.1 percent in December 2022. In Bicol region alone recorded 8.3% inflation rate on January 2023.
According to Bicolana Gabriela, mothers and ordinary workers here in Bicol endure and struggle to fit up the 300-365 pesos daily wage while the daily living wage of a family of five members is P1,161.
“Majority of working women in Bicol belong to retail/wholesale as sales ladies due to the presence of  malls and also most of them belong to informal sectors such as shopkeepers and online sellers,” Ombao added.
Ana Feliza, peasant woman in Guinobatan, Albay agreed that there is hardship and no relief. She joined the protest to express the struggles of peasant women like her due to the economic crisis.
“Grabe na super hirap, imagine mo ngayon ang asukal 30 pesos ang 1/4 samantala yung hindi pa yan nakaupo [President Bongbong Marcos Jr.], 15 pesos na ang pinakamataas,” Feliza explained. “Sa pagtatanim minsan wala man kita kasi wala pa harvest. Baon ka muna sa utang bago makaharvest.”
(“It’s really hard, imagine that 1/4 of sugar costs 30 pesos while when President Bongbong Marcos Jr is not yet on the seat, 15 pesos is the highest price.” Feliza explained. “In planting, sometimes I don’t even have a profit since there is no harvest yet. You will be in debts first before harvesting.”)
While women farmers suffer from economic crisis, they also suffer from extrajudicial killings, false charges, imprisonment, forced surrendering, red-tagging, and harassment in their communities by the military and police according to Amihan Bicol, an organization of peasant women and federation of peasant women organizations.
According to KARAPATAN Bikol data, there are 134 victims of murder and there are currently 39 political prisoners.
From Sorsogon City, May Karen Diaz of Amihan Sorsogon joined the protest in Legazpi City to demand justice to her fellow peasant women in the province.
“Doon samin sa Sorsogon, women’s day pinakita lang nila ‘yung pagkasamasama ng kababaihan sa isang pagtitipon pero walang ganitong pangyayari na naipapahayag mo o nailalabas mo ‘yung gusto mo maiparating sa gobyerno (In Sorsogon, on women’s day they just showed the unity of women in a gathering but there is no event like this that you can express or bring out what you want to convey to the government.),” Diaz said.
“Masakit din sa amin ‘yung mga nangyayari tulad ng kay Jean Estiller, naframe up ba. Dapat mabigyan sya ng katarungan sa ganitong sitwasyon. Yan din ang hinahangad ng mga kababaihan ng Sorsogon (The happenings are also painful for us just like Jean Estiller’s situation, she was framed up. She should be given justice in this situation. That is also what the women of Sorsogon aspire to.)” Diaz added.
Jean Estiller is the Provincial Treasurer of Amihan-Sorsogon, executive member of AMIHAN-Bicol and Association of Women Farmers of Sorsogon (SAKAMASOR). Estiller is currently detained in Sorsogon Provincial Jail due to ‘fabricated’ cases such as Anti-Terror Law.
Estiller is among the six (6) women political prisoners in Bicol including Digna Aquilino, a researcher of DAMPA– Camarines Sur. | Red Magtoto

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