Filipino Women Find No Comfort from a
Edith Gallardo sells
kakanin (rice cakes) for a living. Sometimes, she would also sell
pancit and boiled peanuts to earn more money. She earns an average
of P100–P150 a day. For Gallardo and other impoverished Filipino women,
having a woman president is no solace. She believes that President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo has done nothing to lift Filipino women from poverty and
BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Women from different
sectors of Philippine society presented their woes during a forum called
Ulat Lila (Purple Report) organized by the Center for Women’s
Resources (CWR), March 4.
As wives and mothers,
women are always the first to bear the brunt of economic devastation.
Based on the 2003 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), three out
of five Filipino families live a hand-to-mouth existence.
Inflation rate was
pegged at 7.4 percent at the end of 2004, the highest in six years.
Meanwhile, the real value of the peso stands at P0.53 due to increases in
prices of commodities and services.
In 2004, the price of
liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) increased 12 times, with a total increase of
P144.65 per 11-kg cylinder. The price of LPG increased by P80 from
January 2004 to February 2005.
Water rates have also
risen. Maynilad jacked up its rate by 36 percent and Manila Water by 21
percent. Electricity rates also went up. A family consuming 120 kwh to
200 kwh of electricity a month pays 34 percent higher. Those who consume
1000 kwh a month pay 28 percent more.
executive director of the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), said that
the impending Value-Added Tax (VAT) increase would burden the consumers
even more. “Since the consumer is at the end of the chain with no one to
pass the VAT to, she/he ends up taking up the VAT.”
An example cited by
Libang is a can of sardines. With VAT at 10 percent, a can of sardines
costs P9.87. At 12 percent, the price goes up to P10.60 per can.
among women was 11.7 percent as of October 2004. Only two out of five
workers are women. Women’s labor force participation rate is only 50
percent as against men’s 83 percent. Half of the women work force are
therefore part of the reserved labor force.
spokesperson of the Koalisyon Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (Coalition
Against Contractualization) criticized the Macapagal-Arroyo government for
not doing anything about the widespread contractualization of labor which,
she said, affects most women workers.
of the workers in the industrial and service sectors are non-regular
workers. According to the labor department, there are 651,000 non-regular
workers in 2003. Forty-seven percent or 307,000 are contractuals who work
in construction projects, real estate, renting and business activities.
Twenty-four percent or 159,000 are casual workers in hotels and
restaurants. Probationary workers account for 18 percent or 120,000 of
non-regular workers. There are 67,000 apprentices/learners and seasonal
Miranda revealed that
women working in factories work more than eight hours a day to meet the
company’s quota. She also cited the pregnancy test as an additional
requirement for work.
“Mas tumitindi ang
kalagayan ng mga manggagawang kababaihan sa ilalim ng babaeng presidente,”
(The situation of the women
workers and the workers in general has worsened under a woman president)
According to the
National Statistics Office (NSO), there were 11.8 million agricultural
workers and farmers as of October 2004. The average wage of women in
agricultural sector, based on Bureau of Agricultural Statistics’ report,
is P127.98. This amount is 15 percent less than the wage of their male
spokesperson of the Amihan (National Federation of Peasant Women),
complained they hardly feel the country’s supposed “economic growth.”
“Binibili sa murang halaga ang aming ani kahit napakataas ng aming gastos.
Hindi kami ang nakakapagpresyo kundi ang mga traders.” (Our products
are bought at low prices. It is not us who determine the price of our
products but the traders.)
Soriano also said
that ordinary farmers like her do not benefit from the Gloria rice. The
said hybrid rice, Soriano said, needs inputs they cannot afford to buy. “Wala
namang subsidyong ibinibigay sa amin kaya walang saysay ang Gloria rice.”
(We do not get any subsidy from the government. Gloria rice is
senseless for the poor farmers.)
The peasant leader
also said the government has failed to implement a genuine agrarian reform
program. The Department of Agrarian Reform, now called Department of Land
Reform (DLR), claimed 3.37 million hectares of land were distributed in 30
years. However, data from the department do not include re-claimed
emancipation patents and certificate of land ownership awards (CLOA).
Based on government data, 75 percent of the beneficiaries are men.
Soriano also hit
Macapagal-Arroyo’s plan of allotting one to two million hectares of land
“Gusto nila ayusin
ang Konsitusyon para paaygan ang 100% foreign ownership.” (They want
to change the Constitution to allow 100 percent foreign ownership of
Soriano related that
some mothers leave their families to work as domestic helpers in the
cities in order to augment the limited income. “Ang mga nanay hahanap
ng paraan para mabuhay ang pamilya. Iiwan ang mga anak sa kamag-anak,
kapitbahay. Minsan, naaabuso ang aming mga anak na babae.” (Mothers
will find ways to support the family. They will leave their children to
relatives, neighbors. In some cases, our daughters are subjected to
The lifting of
restrictions on rice importation, Soriano said, is tantamount of depriving
them of their livelihood. “Pinapatay ni GMA ang kabuhayan natin.”
(GMA is killing our livelihood sources.)
Bragas-Regalado, chairperson of the Migrante International, said that 65
percent of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are women, mostly in the
service sector. Every day, 3,000 Filipinos leave the country to work
Fifteen percent of
the Filipino families are dependent on OFW remittances. The World Bank
estimates OFWs remit USD 8 billion annually.
worked as a domestic helper in Hong Kong for 13 years. She said the Hong
Kong government has persistently
pushed for their wage cut. “We work for 12-16 hours a day,” she said,
usually receiving a monthly salary of P18,000. Of this, they send home
revealed that after 9/11, there has been an intensified crackdown on
illegal immigrants in many countries. Many Filipinos have been detained.
This, she said, have resulted in massive deportation. However, the
Philippine government has only promised to provide free passports and
could not provide job opportunities for the returning OFWs.
Edith Gallardo of the
Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (Samakana or
Organization of United Urban Poor Women)-Tatalon Chapter also shares
Regalado’s sentiments. Gallardo sells kakanin (rice cakes) for a
living. Sometimes, she would also sell pancit and boiled peanuts.
She earns P100–P150 a day.
Gallardo said they
usually have sardinas and noodles for meal. Like any other family
living in an urban poor community, they are constantly threatened of
Based on the
estimates by the National Housing Authority, there are 1.41 million
informal settlers in the country. Fifty-two percent of this can be found
in the National Capital Region.
The budget of the
government for housing is a measly P2.74 billion in 2004, accounting for
only 0.30 percent of the national budget. The Macapagal-Arroyo government
promised to build 1.2 million houses for the poor. In her three-year term,
the government only accomplished 73.6 percent of its target or 882,823
units. The figure is only 25 percent of the total house units needed by
the urban poor.
Gallardo also related
the death of her sick mother. “Dinala ko siya sa public hospital,
hiningan ako ng P1,000 pandeposito. Saan ko po kukunin iyon? Namatay siya
na hindi nagagamot.” (I took her to a public hospital. I was asked to
deposit P1,000. Where would I get that? My mother died without receiving
“Pag nakita ko si Gloria, hindi ko siya patatawarin, siya ang pumatay sa
aking nanay.” (When I see Gloria [Macapagal-Arroyo], I will not
forgive her. She was the one who killed my mother.)
The violence against
women continues. In 2004, there were 2,005 cases of sexual abuse reported
to the Philippine National Police (PNP). Documented cases of rape reached
1,228. Meanwhile, cases of sex trafficking and white slavery increased
four times from 2003 to 2004.
Figures from the
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on the other hand are
higher. Based on its records, there were 11,526 cases of violence against
women and children in 2004. Ninety percent of the cases filed before the
DSWD were cases of sexual abuse against girls. Of the 3,346 rape cases,
31 percent were cases of incest.
executive director of the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), said, “The
challenge for women now is how to course the tide in their favor. Each
issue indicates a formidable task of reckoning and action, and clearly,
there are a lot of things to be done. Women should recognize that they
play a decisive role in the transformation of the Philippine society.”
She ends, “The feudal
view has portrayed women as the hand that rocks the cradle. But in this
era and in this trying moment in our country, women is also the same hand
that wields half of the power of the people. President Macapagal-Arroyo
should realize this.” Bulatlat
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