On the occasion of the 110th anniversary of the International Working Women’s Day, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao salutes the indomitable strength of the Filipino woman in her everyday struggle with the toiling masses against the fetters of semi-colonial and semi-feudal Philippine society. Her unyielding determination, especially in the face of chronic deterioration of socio-economic conditions, calamities, pandemic and even in this time of tyranny and fascism, lives up to the militant tradition that is the cornerstone of this century-old revolutionary leap towards a just society.
It is with utmost pride that we especially recognize the courageous participation of women in the revolutionary armed struggle of the national democratic movement. From Tandang Sora and Gabriela Silang of the old national democratic struggle to Lorena Barros and Zyra Mae “Ka Ara” Ligad of the new, Filipino women have etched their place in the revolutionary armed resistance, not only as fighting elements but also as leading cadres. Ka Ara was a Red fighter in one of Southern Mindanao’s NPA units who was martyred on January 25, 2020 in an air-raid launched by the 60th Infantry Battalion in La Paz, Agusan del Sur.
The Filipino women of today is left with no choice but to resolutely fight their most incorrigible enemy: the US-Duterte regime. Like most tyrants before him, Duterte himself marked Filipino women as his enemy. In the past year alone, his inutile regime has caused immeasurable hardship towards Filipino women and their working and peasant class families. In the midst of Covid-19 pandemic’s rampage, the Duterte regime exacerbated the chronic crisis hardwired in the import-dependent and export-oriented Philippine economy, prioritizing discriminatory lockdown and restrictions, military spending and corrupt infrastructure projects instead of widespread living and work subsidies, free basic social services and healthcare. This criminal negligence and militarist response has made Filipinos, especially women who make up majority of our healthcare workforce, even more vulnerable not only in terms of health but also to prolonged and ruinous decline of their socio-economic conditions.
While Duterte has proven himself a bane to all Filipinos, he has consigned his foulest insults towards women like a relic tottering on the dark and wrong side of history. With every sexist vitriol that spews out of his gutter of a mouth, Duterte embodies the very worst of the inherent macho-fascist semi-colonial and semi-feudal society.
He is the brash bully that forcibly demands blind allegiance by browbeating women like Philippine senator Leila de Lima and media practitioners Maria Ressa and Lady Ann Salem. He is a crusty chauvinist that gleefully disparages the leading capacity of women like his vice president Leni Robredo and the women Red fighters of the NPA. He is a callous criminal that recklessly weaponizes red-tagging against unarmed civilians like 62-year old Gloria Lanutan, women artists, activists in order that his rabid dogs can have the justification to throw them in jail or worse, kill them with impunity. Elderly Lanutan, a peasant woman from Magpet, North Cotabato, was arrested in August last year over spurious charges of “having links” with the NPA.
He is a misogynistic monster that persecutes mothers like Reina Nasino and Amanda Echanis, all the while selling out the motherland to imperialist economic aggression. Nasino lost her child River while being illegally incarcerated while Echanis continues to languish in jail with her baby under trumped-up charges. His regime is a putrid puppet that enforces neoliberal policies, victimizing poor women peasants and workers in order to satisfy his American and Chinese imperialist masters. As an institution, his reactionary regime is the moribund old society, desperately peddling the lie that the palliative pet projects under the Barangay Development Program is the answer to the rural masses’ problem of feudal exploitation such as landlessness, absent production subsidy, market protection and the like.
As with all sectors in the country, Duterte has deeply isolated himself from Filipino women to the point that he himself is pushing them to get organized, launch varied campaigns for their democratic interests, while some join the revolutionary armed struggle in the NPA.
Under the banner of the Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA), which also celebrates its 51st anniversary this year, Filipino women are continuing the militant legacy of their forebears, daring to struggle not just for the emancipation of their sex but towards a socialist future.