Sunday, September 21, 2008


Reproductive health is a woman’s right. It is a woman’s right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to her sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. The enabling conditions for its exercise are equal relationships between women and men, including full respect for the integrity of the person, and mutuality, consent and shared responsibility for sexual behavior and its consequences. Implicit in this exercise is the right of women and men to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable health-care services.

We support the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill because it embodies many aspects of the principle of reproductive health as a woman’s right:

1. The RH Bill promotes sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflects a commitment to women’s social and economic well-being, and affirms the moral capacity of women and men to make sound decisions about their lives. Because reproductive health is central to overall health, fundamental aspects of women’s well-being are compromised when reproductive health is ignored. Women are placed in bondage to reproduction and biology if only “natural family planning” is tolerated.

2. The RH Bill makes it the responsibility of the state to protect the right to choose, not to make decisions for individuals. Women’s right to choose is a basic part of exercising control over their lives. The Bill provides for women to be informed and to services that will ensure women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights. However, reproductive rights are only likely to be exercised effectively and responsibly by women when certain other economic and social rights and entitlements have been realized. The conditions under which choices are made are as important as the actual content of women’s choices: the right to choose is a meaningless abstraction if women are powerless to choose.

3.The RH Bill recognizes the catastrophic health consequences of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Poverty is not only implicated in these deaths, it is also often its direct cause. The RH Bill acknowledges the reproductive health needs of vulnerable young and poor women and the removal of legal as well as attitudinal punitive measures against those who have undergone poorly managed abortions.

4. The RH Bill acknowledges that reproductive and sexual health are integral to social and economic health. Fertility control must be part of a broader program which seeks to improve women’s health and education; provide women with productive work; promote gender equity, especially by placing equal responsibility for reproduction and child-rearing on men; and reorient structural social, economic and development processes towards an equitable distribution of the nation’s, and the world’s, productive assets.

5. The RH Bill affirms that human sexuality and gender relations are closely interrelated and together affect the ability of men and women to achieve and maintain sexual health and manage their reproductive lives. The differential power between men and women in general, and husbands and wives in particular, is a major factor in women’s ability to exercise reproductive options. Those who have most at stake in every pregnancy should be allowed a decisive voice and choice on their own behalf.

We urge the legislators to affirm women’s right to reproductive self-determination and support the Reproductive Health Bill.


US Troops Out of Mindanao; Genuine Self-Determination for Moros Now

The United States' involvement in the war in Mindanao can no longer be denied. Several times in the last month, at the height of Philippine military offensives against Moro fighters, US soldiers were repeatedly seen with Filipino troops, helping recover bombs, evacuating casualties, or joining Filipino troops in Philippine military camps throughout Mindanao. The Philippine military itself categorically confirmed that the US military has been providing it with "technical assistance" in pursuit of Moro rebels.

All these continue a pattern of reports that have accumulated in the last few years: Just in February, a Filipino general confirmed that it was the crew of a US spy plane that provided the intelligence which resulted in an operation in which eight civilians, including a pregnant woman and two children, were killed in Maimbung, Sulu.

The latest revelations that the US has been expanding its military structures in Zamboanga City not only confirm what we have been warning against; they heighten our concern that the US intends to stay in the Philippines for the long-haul.

In joining Filipino troops in their operations, providing them information, locating bombs, rescuing casualties, or giving technical assistance, the US military is clearly involved in actual combat in the Philippines. In stationing troops and equipment in various military facilities in the south, the US has established permanent basing in the country.

Not only is this patently unconstitutional, it also further contributes to escalating and exacerbating the violence and insecurity in Mindanao, drawing parties towards all-out war, away from a just and peaceful resolution.

We therefore demand that US troops immediately withdraw from all of Mindanao and that no US troops be involved in any operations.

We likewise demand that the Philippine military desists from further military offensives, that it immediately pulls out its troops from the region, and that it returns to the negotiating table.

We oppose the arming of civilians by the Philippine government and demand the immediate disbandment of militias and private armies.

We denounce the targeting and killing of innocent civilians by any side and we demand justice and reparations for all those who have been killed, displaced, and affected by the war.

To address the root causes of the war, we support an agreement that would genuinely advance the Moro's and the indigenous people's right to self-determination – as they themselves define it, free from others' imposition and intervention. This entails recognizing and respecting the Bangsamoro people's right to self-rule.

In any agreement, the indigenous peoples' rights must at all times be assured and protected through specific provisions and measures. While we call for the indigenous people's rights not to be subsumed under those of the Bangsamoro, we oppose efforts to set one oppressed people against another and we refuse to allow one oppressed peoples' rights to be used to deprive another people of theirs.

Narrow vested interests of local and foreign powers should not be allowed to stand in the way of guaranteeing the universal right to self-determination. For it is only by advancing the right to self-determination of the Bangsamoro and the indigenous peoples that lasting peace and justice can be achieved.


15 September 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cavite urban poor groups appeal for moratorium on demolitions

MANILA, Philippines, 09/18/2008 | 01:16 PM — Urban poor groups in Cavite province appealed to the government on Thursday to declare a moratorium on demolitions in view of the economic crisis.

They issued the appeal after two of their leaders were arrested Thursday morning as they tried to prevent a scheduled demolition at Barangay Bitong Dalig, in the town of Kawit.

Wilfredo Bonga, together with Raul Moring of Samahang Nagkakaisa ng Cavite (Sanagca) were arrested as police ordered the dispersal of some 600 residents who marched and formed a barricade around the target area of demolition.

In a statement, Romy Cabugnason, chairman of the Partido ng Manggagawa chapter in Cavite, said police used a water cannon to break the protesters who tried to secure their place against the advancing demolition crew.

“When the crowd resisted using their bodies as shields, policemen accosted and dragged the two leaders and brought them to the nearby Kawit municipal hall. The protesters proceeded to the municipal hall and vowed not to leave the place until their leaders are freed," said Cabugnason.

The protesters are said they were only asking for a moratorium on demolitions while relocation sites are not yet available for families that will be displaced. After dispersing the protesters, the demolition crew proceeded with the demolition, tearing down at least 50 shanties in just an hour, said the statement.

The Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino said the government should declare a moratorium on demolitions especially during these times of acute economic crisis which makes life even harsher for the poor.

Tonette Fajanilan of Sanagca chair cried foul on the government’s use of force during the demolition and vowed to pursue their cause not only in the streets but also in courts.

She said that even in cases where valid court orders are issued by the court, demolition cannot be implemented until relocation sites for affected families are already secured. The intent of this ruling is to avoid an abrupt dislocation of urban poor people.

“Kahit kami mahirap, may karapatan pa rin naman kami sa makataong pagtrato. Kung ang mga rebelde ay kinakausap ng gubyerno, bakit kami ay hindi gayung ang tanging kasalanan lang naman namin ay ang maging mahirap (Even if we are so poor, we also have the right to be treated humanely. If the government talks with rebels, why don’t our officials also talk to us when our only fault is to be poor," said Fajanilan.

“Ang kailangan namin ngayon ay tulong, hindi pwersa at dahas (what we need now is help, not force or violence," Fajanilan said.

Threats of demolition is haunting Cavite residents along the coastal lines of Bacoor, Kawit, Noveleta and Cavite City because of the R-1 expressway extension project and the conversion of the Sangley Point into a major port and logistics hub. - GMANews.TV