#BabaeAko movement: Arroyo as Speaker won't champion women's status
MANILA, Philippines – Despite former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo being the first female Speaker of the Philippines' House of Representatives, women's groups under the #BabaeAko movement are not supportive of the change.
Taking part in the United People’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), the #BabaeAko movement staged a program against President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration on Monday, July 23, along Commonwealth Avenue. (READ: People’s SONA unites opposition in ‘true’ state of the nation)
During the program, Stop TRAIN Network petition leader Irene Donato turned over around 7000* signatures to Gabriela Party Rep. Emmi de Jesus.
However, De Jesus admitted the petition might not be immediately attended to as the House went through a coup to replace Pantaleon Alvarez with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The latter was not identified by de Jesus during the speech. (READ: Alvarez out, Arroyo in as House Speaker)
“Just because a woman will be the next House speaker doesn’t mean that the women’s status will improve. It has been proven that she also exacerbates the situation of women and other citizens,” De Jesus said about Macapagal-Arroyo in Filipino, although, she also said Alvarez was not for the Filipino masses, as well. (READ: Makabayan slams Arroyo's 'naked power grab' in House)
She added, “Until we make noise with our voices and protests, we won’t be able to push for our agenda through the law.”
She expressed concern over the poor representation of real issues in the Congress. “Kami po’ng mga mambabatas na tunay na kumakatawan sa tinig [ng] nakararami ay minority parin. Ang Kongreso po ay hawak parin ng nakararami na kabilang sa naghaharing uri,” she said.
(We lawmakers genuinely representing the voice of the masses still make up the minority. The Congress is still controlled by a majority that belongs to the reigning type.)
The movement also opposed the charter change to federalism, which is deemed by the group as a hurdle to policy-making on more urgent issues like the TRAIN law. (READ: DOCUMENT: Final version of Consultative Committee draft constitution)
Gabriela, Voices of Women for Justice and Peace, Stop TRAIN Network, Girls of Peace, Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan (KMK), were among groups represented in the event.
After the independent program, the movement marched along Commonwealth Avenue to join other contingents of the United People’s SONA. The main program in front of St. Peter Parish coincided with the President’s third State of the Nation Address in Batasang Pambansa.
#BabaeAko is the social media campaign turned movement that was recognized among Time’s 25 ‘Most Influential People on the Internet.’ – Rappler.com
Sheila Advincula is a Rappler intern. She is currently taking up AB Communication at the Ateneo de Manila University.
(*Editor's Note: The number originally published for the signatures turned over during the protest was 1000. However, Gabriela Women's Party later clarified that there were around 7000 signatures.)