News Release
08 March 2009

Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0917-3221203

GABRIELA leads thousands in Women’s Day march against VFA and Arroyo

Wave upon wave of women brandishing purple banners joined the commemoration of March 8 International Women’s Day lead by the militant women’s group GABRIELA. “Junk Visiting Forces Agreement” and “End Arroyo Puppetry” were their resounding calls as they gathered in Welcome Rotunda and later marched to Mendiola Bridge, at the foot of Malacañang.

“There is no better time than on Women’s Day for thousands of Filipinas all over the country to come forward, reclaim the dignity of women and defend the sovereignty of our Motherland against the ravaging of US intervention. Today we will show the perfidious woman in Malacañang, that unlike her, we stand with the Filipino people and we will fight to end any and all forms of unequal relations with the United States government,” said Emmi de Jesus, GABRIELA secretary general.

According to De Jesus, the problems besetting Filipino women stems from the continuing unequal relations between the United States and the Philippines. “The capitalist crisis of overproduction in the United States impacts on the export-oriented and import-dependent Philippine economy and had caused the current massive retrenchment of tens of thousands of Filipinos. Most Filipinos who lose their jobs, either here or abroad, are women,” said De Jesus.

The women’s group said that for every 100 workers that are laid off, 70 to 80 are women. “Displaced workers here and abroad adds to the millions of unemployed which live in hand-to-mouth existence amid soaring prices of goods and services.”

“The susceptibility of the Philippines can only be attributed to a shamelessly servile Arroyo government that cannot even muster indignation even as Filipinas are being raped and denied justice by the US military,” said De Jesus.

The women’s group demands the immediate scrapping of the VFA especially when the Supreme Court ordered the transfer of detention of L/Cpl. Daniel Smith under Philippine authorities last February 11. Smith was the soldier found guilty of raping 21-year “Nicole” in Subic in 2005. Then in February 24, a court marshal case against another US soldier for raping a Filipina in Okinawa, Japan was dismissed by the US Army.

“Arroyo has consistently shown she is a shame to Filipino women. For years since she has occupied the seat of power in Malacañang, she has cheated and robbed women and their families. In the midst of the current global crisis, Arroyo peddles Filipinas to foreign economies as migrant workers to keep the failing Philippine economy afloat. The Arroyo regime had killed many honorable women and men who fought for the interest of the people. Treachery, tyranny and terrorism are the ways of the Arroyo regime in its loyal servitude to US imperialism”
The militant women’s group also celebrates the 25th year of their founding today.

“Gabriela was founded amidst the tyranny of the Marcos dictatorship. We are so named in honor of the courageous and heroic patriotism of Gabriela Silang. And today we celebrate the twenty five years of Gabriela’s continuing fight to advance the rights and welfare of Filipino women against the onslaught of US domination and its local cohorts,” said Gabriela spokesperson Joms Salvador during the program at the Mendiola Bridge.

“Since Gabriela was founded in 1984 and unto this day, we hold firm in our belief that the emancipation of the Filipino women is linked with people’s struggle for genuine national freedom and the attainment of a true democratic society that upholds and advances the interest of the majority,” said Salvador.

Gabriela chapters outside Metro Manila also lead similar women’s actions today in Laguna, Bicol, Baguio, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, Roxas City, General Santos City and Davao City, as well as overseas in USA, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and Italy