- About Us
Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves!
Campaign Posted on September 13th, 2008.
We raise the alarm as recent events in the Philippines witness the attack on our basic democratic rights. Legitimate expressions of dissent are banned, rallies violently dispersed. Publications and media outfits are raided and censored with threats of government takeover and closure. Our freedoms are curtailed.
Presidential Proclamation 1017, imposed last February 24, 2006 placed the entire nation under a state of national emergency. This was immediately followed by violent dispersals of rallies, the crackdown and censorship of the media, and the illegal arrest and continued detention of Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Crispin Beltran.
Despite being granted protective custody under a unanimously approved Resolution that recognizes their right to due process, five partylis representatives - Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Liza Maza, Reps. Satur Ocampo, Joel Virador and Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, are restrained, hounded by the Philippine National Police and the Department of Justice with threats of illegal arrest and baseless rebellion charges.
Proclamation 1017 is the lates tool of repression imposed. Prior to this was the Calibrated Pre-emptive Response agaisnt rallies and Executive Order 464 disallowing Cabinet members from submitting themselves to inquiries of Congress. And despite the purported lifting of Proclamation 1017, another member of Congress, Rep. Risa Baraquel and former Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman were arrested for joining protest actions.
Activists and journalists are killed and harassed, bringing to mind a scenario comparable to the dark days of Martial Law. Reasion is met with repression. The assertion of our rights is met with force. Women are being persecuted for their political beliefs. Women's rights are under attack.
Gabriela Women's Party Representative Liza Maza is the sole women's sectoral representative in the Philippine Congress. As a legislator she has authored and pushed for the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 and the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act of 2004. She is also among the authors of the Juvenile Justice Bill, which nears its approval.
She initiated inquiries and proposed legislation on the effects of labor contratualization on the rights of women workers. She opposed militarization underscoring its effects on peasant and indigenous women.
As representative and President of Gabriela Women's Party and Vice Chairperson of GABRIELA, the biggest militant alliance of women's organizations in the Philippines, Rep. Maza has over two decades of women's rights advocacy under her wing.
The women's alliance GABRIELA has created its niche in the forefront of the Philippine women's movement, leading international campaigns agaisnt sex trafficking, exposing the prostitution of women in the US military bases in the Philippines.
For 22 years now, GABRIELA has provided service and support mechanisms for women victims of violence and leads efforts to organize and educate women in the grassroots of their rights.
Aside from Rep. Maza, known women leaders in the Philippines are being persecuted. Also charged with rebellion alongside Rep. Maza are 50 others including GWP Founding Vice Chair Tita Lubi. Meanwhile, GABRIELA Alliance Secretary General Emmi de Jesus GWP National Chair, Luz Ilagan, GABRIELA Southern Mindanao Vice Chair Cora Espinoza, BAYAN Chair and International Officer Carol Arraullo and Rita Baua respectively are all being implicated in fabricated affidavits as among those involved in hatching alleged plots of a violent overthrow of the Arroyo regime.
This attack on staunch defenders of women's rights and welfare in the Philippines is an affront to all of womenhood. This assault on our sisters is an assault to ourselves.
The butterfly is a known symbol of strength and freedom. Its symmetrical beauty, a consequence of change. Today as we stand up in defense of our sisters and in defense of our rights the butterfly becomes a symbol of our unity, our strength and our resolute stance against political persecution and repression.
Sign the HANDS-OFF LIZA MAZA petition! Send out letters of concern and protest to:
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Fax: +632 736-1010
Tel.: +632 7355359/ 7361076