Women leaders from various regions in the Philippines marched in Manila last January 18th under the banner of women’s groups GABRIELA and Gabriela Women’s Party in a protest action that highlights various issues that Filipino women are facing this year. This is the first big women’s protest action for 2019 that served as their contribution to the global women’s march happening on January 19 in the US and in various parts of the world. The action also served as the opening salvo and a lead up event towards their nationally coordinated annual One Billion Rising event taking place on February 14th and leading up to March 8th, International Women’s Day.

The main issues presented during the protest action are the increase in prices of rice, oil, utilities and other basic goods, worsened by the second tranche of increase in oil excise tax under the second year of the TRAIN Law, as well as effects of the Build, Build, Build Program that TRAIN purportedly funds on the lives and livelihood in their respective regions.

“The big-time oil price hike implemented early this week, coupled with the oil excise tax indicate a worsening crisis that women and the Filipino people will continue to experience under the Duterte regime,” remarked Joms Salvador, Secretary General of GABRIELA.

Under the worsening economic crisis, state fascism and repression against the people also intensifies. Repression experienced by peasants, workers, urban and rural poor – illegal arrests, filing of trumped-up charges, killings, surveillance, red-tagging and other forms of violence perpetrated by the state indicates how far the Duterte government is willing to push for the neoliberal policies dictates by the US. “The repression and violence in the island of Mindanao is much worse and systematic because of the reigning martial rule in the island. On a nationwide scale, political repression and fascist attack of the Duterte regime is as brutal as the record of the Marcos dictatorship. Gross human rights violations and the culture of impunity reign supreme under Duterte who continues to implement the US Counterinsurgency program despite consorting with China,” Salvador added.

“As one of the vocal critics of the Duterte regime, women are also among the main targets of state fascism. For GABRIELA’s part, even before Duterte was president, we have never backed down nor bowed down to a macho-fascist, misogynist president. As women, we are an important part of nation building, and as mothers, we are the primary victims of economic violence that is worsened by Duterte’s TRAIN Law. Therefore, we should also be at the forefront of the people’s struggle against poverty and fascism,” she further explained.

“The main task of the women’s movement at this time is to expose and oppose the fascist tyranny and economic attack of the Duterte regime. In the face of economic and political attacks, we stand firm together to push forward women’s demand for genuine social change,” Salvador ended.