As the nation observes the International Women’s Day today (March 8), Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has joined women’s groups in their outrage at how women have been badly treated and portrayed by the Duterte administration.
In her message during a press conference at St. Scholastica’s Archives Museum in Manila last March 6, De Lima said it is time for all women to act and speak out against Mr. Duterte’s constant insults, misogynist remarks and foul jokes against them.
“The unmistakable odor of a decaying system can no longer be masked by misogynist remarks and rape jokes that are now consistently being used to lend humor to presidential speeches. This is why we know our fight for gender equality is on the right track,” she said.
“For the women who became victims of injustice, for the mothers who lost their loved ones to EJKs, for the women who laid down their lives, patuloy tayong manindigan upang makamit ang hustisya at mapigilan ang pagbabalik ng diktadurya sa ating bayan,” she added.
De Lima’s message was read by Jean Enriquez of the World March of Women, one of the women’s groups which convened to demand a stop to the misogynism they have been experiencing under Mr. Duterte and his administration.
The women’s groups announced that they will hold a rally dubbed as “Tama na! Sulong Kababaihan” where they will convene in front of the La Madre Filipina (The Filipino Mother) statue in Luneta Park, Manila today March 8.
Leaders and representatives of various women’s groups present at the press conference were from One Billion Rising, #BabaeAko, #EveryWoman, Gabriela and Akbayan, among others.
Led by former presidential peace adviser Ging Deles and Sr. Mary John Manazan, the women rights activists disapproved Mr. Duterte’s unjust treatment of women, especially of outspoken leaders like De Lima, considered as a Prisoner of Conscience.
“Sa administrasyong Duterte, nabigyan na ng lisensya ang mambastos ng harap-harapan. Tayo ay sawang sawa na sa ganito,” Deles said.
Stage actress Monique Wilson, also director of One Billion Rising, expressed her support for De Lima whom she referred to as an unfortunate symbol of the political persecution under the hands of Mr. Duterte and his allies.
“We know that you have also been targeted as a symbol of the many other attacks happening to women who hold a high position in this land. Sa lahat po ng aming struggles, sa lahat po ng aming laban, kasama po namin kayo,” Wilson said.
While she is aware that fighting for the rights of women under the present administration is not a walk in the park, the lady Senator from Bicol said she remains optimistic that the battle for gender equality can be won when all women remain united.
“Saksi tayo sa ginagawang pagmamaliit at pag-atake ni Duterte sa mga kababaihan, lalung-lalo na sa mga kababaihang patuloy na tumututol sa mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao, pagkakanulo sa soberanya ng ating bansa at pagyurak sa diwa ng kalayaan at demokrasya ng rehimeng ito,” she said. A known women human rights defender, De Lima has authored and co-authored several bills and resolutions advocating women’s rights, including Senate Resolution No. 670 seeking to strengthen compliance in the execution of gender-responsive programs by GAD to bridge the gap between men and women and Senate Bill No. 1438 focusing on the protection of women in state custody.