We, the revolutionary women of Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA), commemorate today the landmark declaration of the International Working Women’s Day by socialist parties more than a century ago. Together with the toiling masses, we celebrate the sheer force of women who militantly organize and mobilize themselves in the national democratic struggle against imperialist and macho-fascist oppression.
As a cornerstone of our socialist legacy, this celebration highlights the tremendous power of organized and collective action: that our human rights and civil liberties are not arbitrarily bestowed upon but actively fought for. More importantly, it underscores the historical fact that women’s liberation is not alienated from the plight of the broader masses to liberate society from all forms of oppression.
We commemorate this day as fundamentally radical, despite the efforts of the putrid capitalist system to dilute the class politics and the socialist inspiration of the March 8 movement. This historical struggle that has always embedded itself in the class struggle between the exploited and exploiters made martyrs and heroes out of women; and today, we pay homage to their lives in our collective memory, even as we vow to struggle with more fervor and resolve.
Thus, as we laud the gains of the past, including the positive reforms generated by pro-women legislations and policies, genuine women emancipation can only be achieved if we dismantle the existing class structure that engenders the oppression not only of women but of other classes and sectors in the semi-colonial and semi-feudal society.
The US-Duterte regime continues to unleash intractable havoc of tyranny and corruption that prey on men and women alike. Being a particularly misogynistic reactionary politician, his economic and political attacks burden women on a greater degree and intensity and has made the country at the beck and call of his imperialist masters.
Riding on the working people’s desire for job security to win the presidency more than three years prior, Duterte nevertheless failed to end contractualization in the workforce. Working-class and professional women are routinely subjected to unequal pay and other workplace discrimination due to cliched glass ceiling in different industries and professions.
In Southern Mindanao where imperialist economic aggression in the main takes the form of agri-plantation expansions, women workers are shortchanged in various schemes as labor-only contracting, flexible working hours which ultimately mean depressed wages and other such anti-worker policies. Inextricably linked to this imperialist exploitation which Duterte most willingly kowtows to is the inevitable dispossession of tens of thousands of peasants, mostly women, from their land—their only means of living and subsistence.
Last year’s enactment of the Rice Tarrification Law in the reactionary government worsened inflation while simultaneously pulling down farmgate prices of farmers’ rice and other produce. Duterte’s insistence to abide by the impositions of imperialist neoliberal economics, especially in the agricultural sector, spell greater burden for women peasants and further pushes their families into penury.
Filipino women being traditionally in charge of keeping household are beset with worsening living conditions in the midst of rising prices of basic commodities, further exacerbated by anti-poor programs like the TRAIN Law package. In the urban centers where this deterioration of Filipino families’ living condition is palpably felt, scores of women are being pushed to anti-social activities such as crime or prostitution in order to make both ends meet.
In Davao City and in towns across the region, Duterte’s ambitious Build, Build, Build program is aggressively displacing thousands, orchestrating fire and other such catastrophes in order to forcibly push urban poor families to make way for roads, bridges, real estate, and commercial development.
Duterte has weaponized, not merely in rhetorics but in actual physical violence, his toxic misogyny. The three years of martial law in Mindanao has allowed his fascist dogs in the AFP, PNP and their paramilitaries to victimize women and children with impunity. We shall never forget how, because of his IP-centric Oplan Kapayapaan, the 88th IB in Kitaotao, Bukidnon arrested and held incommunicado for several hours two unarmed, underage Lumad girls in February last year. Most recently, on January 25, a civilian Lumad woman was killed following the fascist troops’ indiscriminate bombing in Brgy. Kasapa Dos, La Paz town. In a Lumad community in Tapayanon, in Cabanglasan town, troops of the 60th IB force single and married women to queue in front of the enemy detachment every Saturday to abuse and rape them. Teachers of Lumad schools, most of whom are women, are being subjected to surveillance, intimidation and other forms of harassment.
A few months after marshalling his troops to shoot NPA women in the vagina in order to render them useless, Duterte’s rabid dogs tortured and killed Cindy “Ka Aira” Tirado in April last year. She was reportedly captured alive and should have been declared prisoner of war in accordance to international humanitarian laws and rules of engagement. Ka Aira’s fate concretely manifests how Duterte’s boorish jokes enables his soldiers to commit the most heinous war crimes and breeds impunity within their ranks.
But the revolutionary women of MAKIBAKA have never cowered in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Whilst we face multiple layers of oppression enmeshed in class, gender, ethnicity, and race, we must stand alongside the oppressed toiling masses with the united aspiration for justice and liberation. The dying semi-colonial and semi-feudal system headed by Duterte must be confronted head on with widespread resistance of many forms-with words, fists, bolos and arms. The war against the feudal patriarchal system involves the widespread legal, underground and aboveground, armed and unarmed forms of struggle, in a broad united front of women and their families. Now more than ever, we call on more women to take to the countrysides, join the New People’s Army, and pursue our bright socialist future.
Rise and resist, revolutionary women of MAKIBAKA!
Forward the armed struggle to defeat the rotten US-Duterte regime!
Onwards with the National Democratic Revolution!