Fishermen mark International Women’s Day saying women are victims of oppression

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In marking year 2020 International Women’s Day, the fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) expressed solidarity to the Global Women’s  Strike and protest actions in the country led by Gabriela and the National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan), as they described fisherfolk women in coastal communities as oppressed due to various government programs and policies.

PAMALAKAYA  said women fishers in Bacoor City, Cavite and Palawan province are being harassed because of their involvement in community struggles.

“What anti-women act is worse than the very violation of fisherfolk women’s right to livelihood and shelter. This is the very program of the ‘lady’ mayor of Bacoor City in Cavite with her reclamation project threatening the lives and livelihood of thousands of fisherfolk, women, and poor families in her town,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA  national chairperson and Anakpawis Party-list former representative, said in a statement on Sunday.

Hicap was referring to the 420-hectare Bacoor Reclamation Project being pushed by Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla.

This will displace at least 700 fisherfolk families.

“Being a woman does not necessarily mean being pro-women, especially those coming from traditional politician families. This day is not about for the likes of Mayor Lani but for the marginalized women who stand for their rights. Moreover, today is the day that recognizes the historical contribution of the toiling women around the world,” Hicap said.

Hicap cited that the International Women’s Day was instigated by working class movements across the world from 1908 to 1904, to demand equality, wages and right to suffrage.  It was only adopted by the United Nations in 1975 and the government in 1990.

“This day is for the toiling women, not for those who perpetuate oppression and exploitation against them,” he noted.

PAMALAKAYA added that fisher women in Palawan were subjected to red-tagging and harassment, as well as, facing the impact of the ban of fishing lapu-lapu.  PAMALAKAYA Palawan Chairperson Annalie Delos Santos has been repeatedly harassed and being accused of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), he said.

“Fisherfolk women members of  PAMALAKAYA have been accused of being members of the NPA, as they are opposing the anti-poor policies in the province,” the fisherfolk leader said.

PAMALAKAYA  Palawan chapter has been opposing the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Administrative Order No. 5 (PCSD AO5) that bans fishing of lapu-lapu. It is a reliable source of income of poor fisherfolk families in the province.

“Due to the ban, fisherfolk women are now at the forefront of struggling where to get food for their children. They are now engrossed in indebtedness and exploitation,” Hicap cited.

The group said that the Duterte administration is an anti-women regime as it carries out anti-poor and anti-people policies.

“Women’s day is for the socio-economic and democratic rights of the toiling women. Oppressing the workers and peasants in the country is oppressing the tooling women. The Duterte regime has no moral claim to peddle lies that it promotes the interest of the sector,” Hicap said. /Stacy Ang

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