Category Archives: Politics

Motherland

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I just finished watching this really heartbreakingly real documentary called Motherland  on POV/PBS. I started and stopped and started it again about 5 times because I was crying my eyes out.

I’m not exactly sure what to write about but I am feeling compelled to think through writing.

There’s no context or interviews or voiceover. Throughout the documentary we see the labor and delivery room in the hospital where, at times, three Filipinas are laboring on one gurney at a time. Birthing mothers are rushed off to give birth right at the moment of pushing, no sooner. There’s just not enough tables. The postpartum main hall shows two recovering mothers with premature babies (2 or 3) per bed. Many of the mothers practice “KMC” or Kangaroo Mother Care where premature babies are supposed to be skin to skin 24/7. There’s anywhere between 140-150 mothers with their babies at any given time.

The images of Filipinas shown as birthing bodies are overwhelming. Many of them are on their 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th child. As you are overhearing the intake interview with hospital staff, you learn that many of the women have barely a secondary education. None of them have jobs. Neither do most of their husbands. They don’t know how they’ll be paying for the cost of their hospital bill (some of them choosing to leave early because they can’t pay). Some live in urban poor dwellings or “squatters”.

There’s no real discussion of the dereliction of the state. Instead the social workers and nursing are convincing many mothers and fathers to engage in family planning or get tubal ligation or an IUD. Over mounds of paper work, social workers say that the government has “no money”. Into the blank stares of parents, “no money” goes into one ear and out of the other.

Ok, so what’s bothering me?

I think the documentary is compelling. It is a glimpse into what the lives and plight of Filipino women in the Philippines. It gives a clear basis for a disruptive change in Philippine society.

What they need is structural family planning. What they need is more public assistance. What they need is jobs to pay their bills. What they need is prenatal care. What they need are public institutions that work to their benefit and not at the expense of them and their children.

But there’s none of that in the film. You could walk away and think, “Those Filipinas are just irresponsible birthing bodies.” And perhaps from a Westernized gaze, people could see these mothers as unloving and not nurturing. In their eyes, postpartum, isn’t a warm fuzzy gaze of a mother in love with a newborn. Rather, they have a vision of a future that is laden with struggle and want.

Filipino women’s lives are mired in the contradictions of feudalism, bureaucrat capitalist greed and US imperialism. I think this documentary demonstrates that. It just needs a little help in terms of naming the larger societal evils so that people don’t blame the women in the documentary.

 

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Talking to my Immigrant Parents about Trayvon Martin

On Saturday, in the midst of celebrating my cousin’s freshly pressed MBA, I received a text message from a comrade informing me that George Zimmerman was acquitted for murdering 15-year old Trayvon Martin. My heart felt heavy and light–heavy in despair for Trayvon’s lost life, his parents, his family and his friends; and light as my family of immigrants who strove to thrive in a new country celebrated my cousin’s accomplishments. The contradictions of America were all too certain in that moment.

Trayvon Martin

On the car ride home, my husband and I were talking about the sadness we felt about the injustice done to the Martin family, the injustice done to all of us who know that Zimmerman is guilty; and perhaps the injustice done to us who thought justice could be feasible in the American judicial system. We felt betrayed. We felt played. Like we played ourselves. We know that Lady Justice is not blind nor colorblind. She is and has been built on racist ideologies and white supremacy. Native people and people of color in this country have never been “created equal.” But in some fog of hope, we though that Trayvon and his family could at least get some semblance of peace through this legal battle. We were wrong.

My father asked me, “What are you guys talking about?” I was careful to address my immigrant father from the Philippines (who is sometimes progressive, other times conservative–somewhat typical of Filipino immigrant fathers). I told him that we found out that Zimmerman was found not guilty. Surprisingly, he knew details about Trayvon’s case and life and death. I asked him what he thought about the acquittal. He replied, “Zimmerman killed that boy because his black. Just like why Oscar Grant was killed. No good.” My mother, a hard-working and often, apolitical person, chimed in, “Its too bad that the court doesn’t see how racism killed the boy.” These two, the ones I love the most, are also people who have internalized racist ideologies, repeated racist rhetoric about other communities of color and swallowed a whole pill about the American racial order even before they left the Philippines. These two, the ones I love the most, are certainly part of the contradiction of race relations in the US. They understood the wrong that happened to Trayvon Martin while also inculcated in the “distancing” that has happened between other racial and ethnic groups and Black Americans in the US.

In this moment, our whole car sent out a vibration of mourning and strength to the Martin family, what in Tagalog we call, “nakikiramay.” Honoring someone who has passed, even if that person was a stranger, even if that person was miles away.

But more importantly, my immigrant parents articulated more clearly than I could, the staunchly racist ideology of America. They found Zimmerman guilty. They found America’s racism, its white supremacy guilty. As immigrants in the US, they often cannot articulate how racism affects them. Both of my immigrant parents only see “hard work” in their success in the US. They don’t identify race or racism as a salient part of their daily life. This is something I’ve always been irritated about when talking to them about race in the US. I thought they had no “race analysis”. But here, they so accurately depicted what went wrong. They identified contemporary individual and institutional racism as the culprit and they despised it. “There will be a rally, Val,” said Papa (a generally anti-rally kind of dude), “they should rally.”

As I’ve continued talk to my immigrant parents about Trayvon Martin, I talk about how the legal system in the US has always upheld and maintain white supremacy–a set of ideologies that needs to “occasionally” kill Black men in order to keep the rest of us safe. It requires Black women to lose their sons, brothers and friends. It normalizes the murder and disappearance of Black people.

I talk to them about how Trayvon’s case also matters because the racism that allowed Zimmerman to murder Trayvon with impunity is also linked to the shrinking set of rights of native people, people of color, queer folks, women, poor folks and immigrants have in this country (i.e. Voting Rights Act, Affirmative Action, abortion rights, immigration reform).

But I also talk to them about how Trayvon’s life is not in vain as so many people are taking to the streets, starting conversations with their immigrant families about race relations in the US, getting out and doing something to honor Trayvon’s life, indicting Zimmerman the people’s way.

And although, some immigrant parents, like mine, aren’t always race-conscious, they still understand that there’s something wrong with this verdict. We all experience race and racism in different ways, but as my parents taught me, it is still real. Real enough for two immigrant parents to know what happened to Trayvon’s family is “no good”.

As I try to understand what really happened, here are some articles that have helped:

http://www.thenation.com/blog/175260/white-supremacy-acquits-george-zimmerman

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/07/questlove-trayvon-martin-and-i-aint-shit.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sonny-singh/zimmerman-verdict-racism_b_3600964.html

http://feministing.com/2013/07/16/white-womanhood-protectionism-and-complicity-in-injustice-for-trayvon/

http://occupydemocrats.com/watch-martin-bashir-sum-up-the-trayvon-martin-travesty-in-under-4-minutes/

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/07/obama-gives-unexpected-speech-race-trayvon-martin-could-have-been-me-35-years-ago/67391/

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Why May 1 Matters

What is May 1? Four days before Cinco de Mayo. The day after April 30. AND, International Workers Day all over the globe.

Whatever you need to do to remember it, do it.

In the US, May 1 has also doubled for Immigrants/Workers Day. A kasama once said, “It’s like Christmas for workers.” Its the day folks come out to celebrate the fact that without low-wage im/migrant workers, our lives would come to a halt. In the past, huge mobilizations of communities that work on different social justice issues come out to mark the day as significant and, more importantly, a day to signal the need for real change around the issues of immigration and today’s working people.

This year though, its EVEN more important to come out to a May Day mobilization near you. Why? Because in the current political debate on Comprehensive Immigration Reform by the bipartisan Gang of Eight, the voices of immigrants, immigrant communities and families are on the line. Literally, many of our mothers, fathers, sisters, sons, grandparents, cousins, friends, loved ones are on the chopping block. Many will be deported. Many will be detained. Families will be separated. Jobs will be lost. Livelihood for families left behind will be severed. This reform will change the landscape of the US. For those of us who live here, those of us who have families that depend on people living and working in the US, this will change our lives.

So, we (by ‘we’, I mean everybody), must help shape this debate. We have to engage in public demonstration, public discourse and organizing around this issue to protect and defend our communities.

May Day is your chance. Get out there. Hold a sign. Sign up for an organization that is engaged with the immigrant rights struggle. Be a part of the change.

Visual graphic of pathways to citizenship:

http://qz.com/76047/all-the-paths-to-us-citizenship-in-the-senates-immigration-bill-visualized/

Colorlines discussion on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill:

http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/04/gang_of_eight_immigration_reform_details.html

nafcon-may1

March

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Legal Trafficking is The Philippines’ Labor Export Policy

Forced migration puts hundreds of migrant workers to Louisiana to work long hours without fair wages and indentured servitude. Their living conditions are cramped in substandard facilities. They are kept from the passports and freedom of mobility, therefore kept from their family.

This has got to be a scene out of Django.

Nope. Its about Filipino migrant workers working at an oil barge in New Orleans in 2013.

Here are the 5 things I think you should know about the Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS) workers:

  • Filipino workers employed by the Grand Isle Shipyard were systematically recruited and sent to Louisiana through the Philippine Labor Export Policy–a legal and institutionalized human trafficking program.When people are like, oh those workers wanted to leave the Philippines, they should be thankful that they have jobs. Well, except for the fact that the Philippine government is in bed with multi-national corporations with companies like GIS and they actually trade the Filipino people like tickets at Chuck E. Cheese–where tickets are the people and money are the prizes. (I know I’m reaching with the analogy here!)
  • The Grand Isle Shipyard’s part in trafficking workers from the Philippines is completely deplorable, but more  offensive is their treatment of the workers: no days off, threats of deportation, 12-14 hour work days, refusal for workers to see their families. Trafficking is usually associated with sex workers and industry. But trafficking happens more and more frequently in low-wage migrant labor. Andhonestly, the trafficking part of migrant workers lives isn’t the worst part. The part where they get to the US and they don’t get paid or get underpaid or when they are stuffed in small living spaces or they get no days off or they don’t get to see their families. That’s absolutely the worst part of it, and really the worst thing that workers face in the history of forever.
  • RACISM IS ALIVE AND WELL. Xenophobia is the word used to describe extreme hate for immigrants but what the word elides is that xenophobia is the second cheek on the face of bigotry and discrimination (American as apple pie). Jim Crow didn’t die just yet. Immigrant, undocumented or migrant worker are part of the “collective Black” at the center of racism.

The lawsuit also alleges that American employees weren’t billed for housing and were given preference for sleeping accommodations. “If a Philippine national were assigned to the lower bunk, he would be required to relinquish to an American worker, if he requested it,” the suit said. Read more: Grand Isle Shipyard Lawsuit – The Sociopathic Way We Do Business – Esquire http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/grand-isle-shipyard-lawsuit-112112#ixzz2IHzamt8f

  • Migrant workers x Oil x Philippine government x multimillion dollar Grand Isle Shipyard Co. The connections between migration, precarious labor, global demand for oil, consumerism, corporate greed, neoliberal states (the Philippines as labor brokering and the US as imperialist), and New Orleans as a historic Filipino migration port leaks with the blood and tears sacrificed by workers for the profit of US imperialism and global capitalism. Migrant workers strung along, exploited and discriminated against, carry the ever-increasing weight of the rest of the world’s (corporations, imperialist governments, and us included y’all) need for fast cars, fast food, fast money.

LASTLY.

  • 80 Filipino overseas workers are filing a lawsuit agains the Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS)–an oil company linked specifically to Black Elk Energy in the Gulf of Mexico.

Separate from the explosion, Grand Isle Shipyard is facing a lawsuit by a group of former workers from the Philippines who claim they were confined to cramped living quarters and forced to work long hours for substandard pay. The lawsuit was filed in late 2011 in a Louisiana federal court and is pending. Lawyers for the company have said the workers’ claims are false and should be dismissed. Read more: http://www.katc.com/full-coverage/oil-platform-explosion-november-2012/

Despite the difficult situation they’re in Filipino workers are fighting back. You should think of how you can support them.

In November an explosion claimed the lives of 3 Filipino workers, Avelino Tajonera, Ellroy Corporal and Jerome Malagapo. Let’s honor them by joining the struggle for Grand Isle Shipyard Workers.

J4GISFilWorkers_presscon_RicRamos_formerGISworker_011613_byJM

Resources:

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2012/11/grand_isle_shipyard_charged_wi.html

http://www.wwltv.com/news/eyewitness/brendanmccarthy/Practice-of-enlisting-Filipino-guest-workers-under-question-182119891.html

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/grand-isle-shipyard-lawsuit-112112

http://www.philippineforum.org/2013/01/18/for-immediate-release-family-members-of-filipino-workers-killed-in-louisiana-oil-rig-explosion-demand-justice/

January 11, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Reference: Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson, 0933-6503487
 
Support statement for OFWs’ lawsuit vs. Grand Isle Shipyard
Justice for victims of Black Elk explosion, stop human trafficking!
Migrante Partylist today expressed support for and strong solidarity with at least 80 Filipino migrant workers who filed a class suit against companies Grand Isle Shipyard, Black Elk Energy and DNR Offshore Crewing Services.
The Grand Isle Shipyard is a company based in Louisiana, USA that hired and deployed Filipino migrant workers to oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico, specifically Black Elk Energy. Filipino workers were recruited in the Philippines through local agency DNR Offshore Crewing Services.
Last November 16, 2012, three Filipino welders were killed while three more were severely injured in the explosion that rocked Black Elk. The Filipino casualties were identified as Avelino Tajonera, Ellroy Corporal and Jerome Malagapo. Black Elk has since had a history of safety problems. Since 2010, Black Elk has been cited 315 times for safety violations. In 2012, Black Elk was cited for 45 incidents of non-compliance to company safety standards.
As a result of the tragedy, more than 80 OFWs filed a class action for violation of the FLSA, discrimination, labor trafficking, slavery and forced servitude, and fraud. The class suit is currently pending at the Louisiana Federal Court.
Since their employment by the said companies in 2005, the Filipino migrant workers have experienced abuses and violations of their rights. They were refused days off, made to work 12-14 hours a day without overtime pay, made to pay illegal fees, were refused visits from and to their families, discriminated against (not allowed to speak to their American co-workers), threatened of deportation and other labor violations.
One worker plaintiff, Saxon Gannod, became temporarily blind because of welding for long hours without rest. While getting medical treatment, he was continuously required to work. Another worker burned inside a tank. He only received three days of medical treatment. Instead, he was hidden in one of the recruiter’s homes without sufficient medical treatment.
At least 500 Filipino workers will potentially benefit should the complainants win the class suit. While American workers enjoy the civil liberties granted any other worker in the US – namely, days off and work holidays and other benefits – Filipino workers are treated like slaves and blatantly discriminated against.
They are being guarded 24 hours a day. Surveillance cameras are set up outside their bunkhouses to prevent them from leaving or escaping. They are asked to leave their rooms and vacate their beds should an American worker decide that he wants to occupy it. Filipino workers are also charged US$1000-US$3000 a month per person for rental of their bunk beds.
Migrante Partylist fully supports the fight of Filipino workers in the said companies and vow to actively campaign for the immediate resolution of their plight. The violations committed by the companies against them are unacceptable. The companies perpetuate modern-day slavery and allow for the discrimination and dehumanization of migrant workers.
Migrante Partylist calls for justice for the three Filipinos who died in the Black Elk explosion. It calls on both Philippine and US Congress to conduct an independent and thorough investigation of the tragedy.
It also calls on the Philippine and US governments to investigate, punish and hold accountable perpetrators of labor trafficking, contract substitution and contract violations of the Filipino migrant workers.
Migrante Partylist likewise denounces any form of neglect and possible white-wash by the Philippine Embassy in the US for denying knowledge about the lawsuit. According to the migrant workers, they have requested a dialogue with the Philippine Ambassador but he refused. In a media interview right after the explosion, he even had the gall to declare that “all is fine” and that “they (Philippine government) are looking forward to bringing in more workers to the companies.
As in other cases of trafficking, discrimination, abuse and exploitation of Filipino migrant workers in the US and elsewhere, it has been proven time and again that only through unity and collective action can Filipino migrant workers assert their rights and obtain justice. ###


Website: http://migranteinternational.org
Office Address: #45 Cambridge St, Cubao, Quezon City
Telefax: 9114910

“Separate from the explosion, Grand Isle Shipyard is facing a lawsuit by a group of former workers from the Philippines who claim they were confined to cramped living quarters and forced to work long hours for substandard pay. The lawsuit was filed in late 2011 in a Louisiana federal court and is pending. Lawyers for the company have said the workers’ claims are false and should be dismissed.”

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Who Cares for Caregivers?

One Sunday afternoon when I was 15 years old, I went to visit my father who was working as a caregiver. He was a live-in caregiver with 5 elderly patients, one of them non-ambulatory. He worked 6 days a week, and because he lived in the facility, I can only imagine, he worked 24 hours a day.

He’d been in the US for over a year and this is the only work he could find, and he was happy to take it. He knew that the paycheck would help my mother put food on the table and help with our household expenses. I was just happy he was in the US with us finally, after 6 years of separation. My weekly trip to his work site was a source of joy for me.

On those Sundays, I’d take him to the bank to deposit his check, get deodorant, etc. And this Sunday, my heart sank a little as my father wobbled his way out of the care home doors. He said his back hurt because he lifted a patient the wrong way. “Its okay, Val. Kaya ko to,” he said. When we got to the bank, he opened up his paycheck envelope, and his eyes got a little watery. He asked me to deposit the check for him because his back was hurting. And as I fought to keep my tears back, I said, “Sure, Papa.”

When I got to the teller, I could tell my father wasn’t tearing up about his back. His paycheck for 2 weeks of work was only $500. That day, I wished all my wishes away.

I wished that my father’s back would heal.

I wished that he could get a fair wage.

I wished that he could have better work conditions.

I wished that people, especially his employer, could see his work as dignified and valuable.

If you know a caregiver, your parent was a caregiver, if you grew up in a care home, you’ll want to do this.

Caregivers and domestic workers are one of few American workforces who do not receive standardized labor rights.

The US Department of Labor is taking comments about proposed regulations to standardize their rights.

Follow the steps below and tell the DOL that you support home care workers.

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Comments on Department of Labor ‘s Proposed Regulations for MW and OT for Home Care Workers

All comments need to be submitted on-line by February 27, 2012.

HOW DO I SUBMIT IT?

1. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/ .

2. On the “SEARCH” LINE, please type or paste: Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service

3. You will be taken to a site that has different Titles of Documents. Look for the Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service. Click on Submit a Comment (which is on the RIGHT HAND side) and

4. Enter your contact information and Type in a comment of up to 2,000 characters OR attach a word or PDF file. You only have 20 minutes, so if you plan to have it typed up beforehand so you can paste it in.

5. Your document should refer to Dept of Labor and RIN 1235-AA05,

NOTE: All comments will be posted unedited, so don’t disclose any information that you don’t feel comfortable sharing publicly. Include as much relevant personal information as you are comfortable sharing. The more specific you are about why you care about this issue and what the new rule would mean to you, the better.

WHAT KIND OF COMMENT SHOULD I SUBMIT?

FROM CAREGIVERS: We want to tell the Department of Labor (DOL) to know about caregivers’ experiences of underpay and overwork. Ask caregivers to describe, as specifically as possible, what it feels like to be underpaid and overworked (i.e. they can talk about how difficult it is to live and support their families in SF because their pay is so low; they can talk about how overwork affects their health, they can talk about what they actually do at work that shows that they are more than just “companions” etc). LIMIT THE COMMENT TO 2000 WORDS, OTHERWISE YOU WILL HAVE TO ATTACH YOUR COMMENTS SEPARATELY.

Here are sample questions to ask workers:

SINO KA?

Are you a caregiver, child of caregiver, or an employer? For how many years? Is being a caregiver your only job? Do you have family you are supporting? Are you a part of a caregivers organization?

ANO ANG TRABAHO MO?

What state do you work in? How many hours do you work? How much are you paid? Do you have to get up when you sleep? What do you do for the people you care for (Shower? Dress? Cook?…)

ASK FOR DOL’S SUPPORT.

Bakit sinasuportahan mo ang mga karapatan para Overtime pay & Minimum Wage for Home Care workers? (Halimbawa – it will recognize our important work, it will help us stay at our jobs longer, do our jobs better, care for our families.)

Here is a sample template for answers/comments to post:

· As a caregiver, I strongly support the DOL’s proposed regulations (RIN 1235-AA05) that ensure all home care aides receive minimum wage and overtime protections.

· I have worked in the caregiver field for ___ years.

· Every day, I help my clients with [list what you do for your clients – include any things that you do like turning the patient, changing wound dressing, giving medications, dressing, bathing, feeding , grooming, toileting, laundry, housekeepring, etc].

· I often work ___ hours each work and do not get paid any overtime. Even though I am supposed to get minimum wage in California, I have often work at wages below minimum wage

· [If not getting minimum wage and./or overtime ]- I think it’s unfair that I don’t have the same rights as other workers.

· My work helps my clients stay healthy and independent. I take great pride in my work, which takes skill and compassion. I care deeply about my clients, but I also need to earn a fair wage to support my own family.

REMEMER: only include details the worker is comfortable having posted on a public website)

FROM YOU: As advocates, we want the DOL to know that we support revisions of the regulations.

Here is a sample of what you can submit for yourself:

· I am a concerned individual and I support the proposed regulations (RIN 1235-AA05) to ensure minimum wage and overtime protection for homecare workers whose work is so important. It will help to stabilize this critical workforce that is experiencing high turnover because of low pay and long hours. It will help ensure dignified care for the elderly and people with disabilities so they can stay in their homes and out of institutions.

· I also support requiring employers of live-in domestic workers to make and keep records of domestic workers’ hours worked because live-in workers need this basic protection around their work hours. In addition, employers should ALSO be required to keep other records — like the rate of pay, total wages, or deductions for meals and housing. Deductions from pay are common, and without this additional information, the possible wage and hour violations are impossible to spot. It will not be burdensome for employers to keep such records—because they have home computers, smartphones, and workers can keep such information, which employers can use to keep their records.

· Personally, this issue matters to me because [HERE YOU CAN PERSONALIZE IT]

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RH Bill in the Philippines

The RH Bill has and continues to stir all kinds of frenzy in the Philippines, the only country in the world that still hasn’t made divorce illegal nor has it legislated comprehensive reproductive health education and services. In the 21st century, the resistance of the Philippine government to provide women with access to pap smears, breast and cervical cancer scans, etc. is at best negligent and, at very worst, abhorrent.

Of course we can’t keep the Catholic church’s influence out of this disucssion. A relative of mine, a staunch anti-RH Bill person, has said before its ‘population control’ that we need not birth control or abortion. The problem with that is that  ‘Population control’ attributes a growing population to the unruly behavior of poor people, without taking into consideration the lack of education and health services that is needed for family planning.

Anyway, just recently the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has tried to catch the Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), one of the co sponsors of the House Bill 4244 otherwise known as the RH Bill, in the snares of the population control debate, claiming that GWP  admits that the bill they themselves are proposing is not “pro-poor and pro-women.” They left out the rest of the sentence that said that the RH Bill can’t be pro-poor and pro-women “as long as it espouses population control.”

Bulatlat has a better written piece on this HERE.

I think we, Filipino Americans, who think we’re thousands of miles away from the islands from this debate need to listen up (or at least READ up), since similar retreats from basic women’s health care and attacks on women’s bodies are happening right here at home too.

Rep. Luz Ilagan, one of my modern day heroines has written a response which I’m quoting below:

21 February 2012

 

CBCP for Life

470 Gen. Luna St., Intramuros
1002 Manila, Philippines

 

Dear Editors,

 

In the interest of fairness and accuracy we hope that the “CBCP for Life” will find space for this clarificatory statement in response to an article which appeared in the “CBCP for Life” website on February 20, 2012. The undersigned was quoted out of context thus making it appear that Gabriela, a primary author and advocate for the RH bill supposedly admits that the RH bill is not pro-poor and pro-women.

 

Gabriela Women’s Party has long advocated for a national reproductive health policy that will guarantee marginalized women’s full access to comprehensive maternal and reproductive healthcare.

 

The consolidated RH bill currently contains several provisions that will help ensure poor women and children’s access to healthcare, such as the following:

 

§  Mobile health clinics that will ensure the delivery of health services to far-flung communities and barangays.

§  Improvement and upgrade of equipment available in public health care facilities, including barangay health centers to ensure that they are able to conduct basic reproductive health care procedures such as pap smears.

§  Pro-bono reproductive health care services for indigent women by making it mandatory for all health care workers to provide at least 48 hours annually of reproductive health services free of charge to indigent patients, especially pregnant adolescents.

 

However, the RH Bill currently contains three provisions pertaining to population control:

 

§  Section 2, Guiding Principles, (l): The limited resources of the country cannot be suffered to be spread so thinly to service a burgeoning multitude that makes the allocations grossly inadequate and effectively meaningless;

§  Section 12, Integration of Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Component in Anti-Poverty Programs; and

§  Section 25, Implementing Mechanism, where the Population Commission, rather than the DOH per se, is mandated to serve as the coordinating body in the implementation of this bill.

 

Gabriela Women’s Party believes the RH bill’s provisions on population control will overshadow its pro-poor provisions and threatens to effectively confine the delivery of reproductive and maternal health care services to the implementation of population control programs, the distribution of contraceptives and population control mechanisms.

 

Moreover, the population control aspects of the RH bill conveniently blame poverty on women’s bodies, fertility and population while disregarding the impact of social inequities and neo-liberal policies on the country’s growing hunger and poverty.

 

Gabriela Women’s Party remains firm in its position against population control. It will continue to push for amendments to the bill, including the removal of provisions pertaining to population control.

 

Gabriela Women’s Party will continue to fight for full women’s access to healthcare and fight not just for the retention of the pro-poor provisions in the RH bill but will also fight for increased budgetary allocation for healthcare as well as the granting of increased maternity benefits for women workers, among others.

 

Lastly, it is our fervent hope that the Catholic hierarchy, with its preferential option for the poor, will join us in the struggle for genuine reforms to help uplift the lives of poor Filipino women and their families.

 

Respectfully,

 

 

REP. LUZ C. ILAGAN

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Indefinite

 

Yea, right.

In my handy dandy Apple dictionary app, indefinite means, “lasting for an unknown or unstated length of time.” Something about the word indefinite always kinda puts me on edge, depending on context, of course. When people say, “I’m moving here indefinitely!” I feel like, yay, you’re choosing to be somewhere for a long time!

But when someone’s like, “I don’t know when I’ll be back. My trip away is indefinite.” I feel like, damn. Something outside of your own control is probably putting you in a position that you don’t want to be in.

That said, when President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law in the last day of 2011, I felt like, damn, that’s definitely something that can put you in a position you don’t want to be in. Indefinitely.

The NDAA basically allows (unconstitutional) military detention without due process (a charge or a trial) for any unknown length of time and from wherever there is an American battlefield. If you can imagine the types of loopholes and crazy interpretations of this bill, it could mean that an Occupy protest or a community center doing critical popular education is a battlefield.

This bill is bad news (bears). Not just because of the indefinite part, but because it is the beginning of the corrosion of civil liberties. This bill inches away at the “freedoms” Americans think we have. Further, the bill allows for a shoot-at-any-target type of tactic that has proven to be ruthless, inaccurate and dangerous (see Japanese internment, Post 9/11 Muslim hate crimes).

In class this past semester, we were discussing war and conflict and a student in my class said, “We’re free here in America.” And an invited speaker from the UK replied, “You’re quality of freedom is really low.” This NDAA bill definitely backs that argument up.

I know, I know, right. For the first post of the year, kind of a downer. But hey, if this is the kind of world we live in. It’s the kind of world I’ll write about.

On a more positive note, we get an extra day this year. Happy Leap Year!

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