Marines Poised for More Philippine Tours: Filipino Women’s Rights Groups in the U.S. Poised to Protest

Media Advisory
April 14, 2012

Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chairwoman, GABRIELA-USA,

San Francisco, CA – U.S. based Filipino women’s rights groups are outraged over a recent article published by Marine Corps Times, a print and online publication that caters to the Marine Corps community.

According to its online website, Marine Corps Times claims to be an independent source for information on news affecting the Marines, and provides “quality, unbiased reporting on the important issues for the military community.” But an April 8 article written by staff writer Gidget Fuentes declaring that the Philippines is “known for their raunchy party atmosphere,” and “feature notorious red-light districts where alcohol and scantily clad women have attracted many Marines and sailors over the years” has offended Filipinos, especially women and children’s advocates.  The article reports on the upcoming plans of the U.S. to deploy more troops to the Philippines over the coming the years, starting with 4,600 this Monday, April 16.

“Filipino women and children are the first to suffer anytime U.S. troops arrive in the Philippines,” says Raquel Redondiez, Chairwoman of GABRIELA-USA. “For generations Filipino women like Nicole have never seen justice against their American rapists, and orphaned Amerasian children have continually been abandoned by their American fathers.”  Nicole was raped by U.S. marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith in 2005, but did not serve time because of U.S. intervention despite being convicted by Philippine courts.

Irma Bajar, Chairwoman of New York-based Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment says “It is disgusting that P-noy’s administration would roll out the red carpet for thousands of U.S. military troops knowing full-well the commodification and abuse that Filipino women and children will suffer.”

Member organizations of GABRIELA-USA in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle will be participating in a national day of action against U.S. military presence in the Philippines on April 16, 2012, when the Balikatan U.S. Philippine military exercises will begin.

GABRIELA, a Philippine based alliance of hundreds of Filipino women’s organizations have long protested against the Visiting Forces Agreement which have allowed for return of U.S. troops to the Philippines despite constitutional provisions banning foreign military bases in the Philippines.

WIDF assesses global conditions of women workers

By Sue Davis
New York

Published Mar 19, 2010 8:01 PM

The Women’s International Democratic Federation held a panel discussion on “The Economic Crisis and Women’s Access to Work” at the United Nations on March 10 as part of the 15th anniversary of the Beijing World Conference on Women. Dr. Vinie Burrows, permanent representative to the U.N. for the WIDF, asked the panelists to talk about “how the global economic crisis has fallen the hardest on women.” Berta Joubert-Ceci of the National Women’s Fightback Network of WIDF helped organize the event.

Maritzel  González-Quevido holds picture of<br>Cuban Five political prisoners at discussion<br>of women’s status at UN.
Maritzel González-Quevido holds picture of
Cuban Five political prisoners at discussion
of women’s status at UN.
WW photo: John Catalinotto

Ana Violeta Castaneda, WIDF regional coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, noted that advancements for women have been limited since Beijing because many repressive governments in the region spend valuable resources on the military, while the vast majority of the people live in poverty.

Valerie Francisco, representing GABRIELA USA, said that employment for women in the Philippines has worsened since the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration took power nine years ago. As a result, Filipino women are migrant workers in 145 countries, most often as low-paid domestic servants with no rights. She invited women to attend a GABRIELA conference in August in Montreal to prepare a women’s platform of action.

Liege Rocha, a member of the steering committee of WIDF in Brazil, reported that the impact of the capitalist crisis was not that heavy in Brazil, though there was some increase in unemployment. While 47 percent of women work (90 percent in service industries), they earn 30 percent less than men. “One of our achievements is establishing the Women’s Department, where women decide on policies for women. We need to take action to end women’s inequality and to be economically independent,” she said.

Pham Hoai Giang, the head of international relations for the Vietnam Women’s Union, prepared a statement read by U.S. activist Merle Ratner. The VWU, established in 1930, is currently fighting trafficking of women and domestic violence and is dealing with the continuing effects of Agent Orange. Giang noted that the impact of the capitalist crisis has not been as severe as in other countries because of government policies devoted to relieving poverty.

Maritzel González-Quevido of the Federation of Cuban Women spoke about how Cuba has been actively implementing key policies adopted at the Beijing conference as part of its overall program to end oppression based on class, gender and race. González reported that women predominate in many job categories — for example, they are 70 percent of health care workers and attorneys.

Invited guest Tiago Vieira, president of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, announced the World Youth Festival that his organization is holding in December 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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