Monthly Archives: April 2008


Gabriela Women’s Party filed today a bill extending the allowed maternity leave from the current period of 60 days for normal deliveries and 78 days for caesarean section deliveries to as much as 120 days, as recommended by the International Labor Organization Convention 183 on Maternity Protection.

Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, along with representatives from the Alliance of Concernted Teachers, Education International Philippines, the National Alliance of Teachers and Office Workers, Teachers’ Organization of the Philippine Public Sector and the Trade Federation-FFW, led the filing of the bill, stressing the urgency for legislation towards the protection of mothers and infants.

“Our country lags behind our neighbors in terms of granting maternity benefits and protection to women workers. This measure will help address the maternal and infant mortality rates in our country and ensure the health of both mother and child,” explained Rep. Ilagan.

Ilagan cited studies from the Health alliance for Democracy stating that ten mothers die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth. Infant Mortality was recorded at 25 per 1,000 live births in 2005, while maternal mortality was 162 per 100,000 live births in 2006. The Philippines ranks 84th out of 179 countries with available data on infant mortality rate.

The Gabriela solon further said that the Philippines, along with Malaysia, ranks lowest in South East Asia in providing for maternity health care, in terms of the length of period of maternity leave benefits. Vietnam allows 120-180 days while Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos allows as much as 90 days.

“Extending the period for maternity leave will not only give mothers the opportunity to fully recover, it will also give them the chance to breastfeed infants during the first four months.” The WHO recommends a 4-month period for exclusive breastfeeding.

Main authors of the measure, Gabriela Reps. Ilagan and Liza Maza, hope that the bill will be given due attention and approval in the light of granting relief and benefits to women workers amid high prices and the worsening economic and food crisis.

Historically, the 1952 Women and Children Labor Law granted twelve (12) weeks (or 84 days) maternity leave for pregnant women, four weeks prior to delivery and eight weeks after delivery. In 1974, Presidential Decree (P.D.) 442, or the Labor Code of the Philippines , reduced the period of maternity leave from 12 weeks to six (6) weeks (or 42 days), two weeks before delivery and four weeks after delivery. This was again increased by Republic Act (R.A). 7322, to sixty (60) calendar days for a normal delivery and seventy-eight calendar days in the case of Caesarian operation.

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“While judicial processes must be respected, we in Gabriela Women’s Party remain doubtful of the investigation conducted by the Philippine National Police which is the basis of the warrants issued today.”

“Though this has long been ignored, our demand for an independent probe on the November 13 Batasan blast stays. Until then, justice for the victims of the Batasan blast remains elusive”

Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan was among those injured in the November 13, 2007 Batasan blast. She suffered shrapnel wounds on her right leg. Her driver, Marcial Taldo died on the spot.

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The hearing today on the motion for the judicial determination of probable cause filed by Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza, Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino (Bayan Muna) and Rep. Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis) has been reset to May 12 by Judge Evelyn Turla of Branch 40, Palayan City Nueva Ecija RTC. This after the prosecution declared that the CIDG is requesting 5 days or until April 30 to comment on the motion.

The defense was meanwhile ordered to submit jurisprudence that the 10-day period given the judge to determineprobable cause for the issuance of a warrant is not mandatory.

Rep. Maza who made her apperance at the court along with the co-accused, maintained the murder and kidnapping charges filed against them are part of a grand Malacanang scheme to remove progressive partylists from Congress.

“The charges are fabricated and the evidence, preposterous. We remain confident that a fair and just assessment, based solely on the merits of the case filed against us would result to a dismissal of the case,” said Rep. Maza.

Maza explained that In their motion, the defense cited several inconsistencies in the charges against them. “They accuse us, for example of collaborating for the purported murder of Jimmy Peralta who was in fact killed in a road accident. A spot report released the day after his accident, reveals that Peralta in fact hit a certain Marlon Banicod with his motorcycle, causing Peralta to fall down and consequently ran over by a vehicle in the opposite direction. The statements against us are preposterous. ”

The same charges were used in May 2007 in an attempt to disqualify Gabriela Women’s Party, Bayan Muna and Anakpawis from participating in
the partylist elections. The disqualification case was dismissed for lack of merit.

“This is plain and simple political persecution. A clear indication of the Arroyo government’s determination to eliminate the political opposition despite being closely watched by the international community. This continuing political persecution is a clear indication of the government’s desperation as it carries on with its corrupt practices and bankrupt economic policies while failing to appease growing public unrest with propaganda.” #

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“There is no point in extending a bogus land reform program that has served to strengthen the hold of big landowners, agro-corporations and multinationals over vast tracts of land.”

Thus explained Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Largoza Maza, in voting “NO” to the proposed extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program which was approved at the committee level yesterday.

“We would gladly support a land reform program that will genuinely pave the way for land distribution, irrigation and support for farm implements to poor peasants. However, the measure that Malacanang and Congress are dead-set on approving will give new life to the CARP that has kept at least seven out of ten peasants landless,” explained Maza.

According to the Gabriela solon, even records from the Department of Agrarian Reform would substantiate the failure of the 20-year old CARP and the need for a genuine agrarian reform law.

Based on DAR records, foreclosed properties due to non-payment of amortization totaled around 100,000 hectares, implying that the economic conditions of farmer-beneficiarie s did not improve significantly to enable them to sustain payment. “Most farmer beneficiaries become victims of bigay-bawi schemes,” said Maza.

Maza further said that from 1988 to 2004 alone, around 800,000 hectares of agricultural lands have been converted to other uses enabling landowners and corporations to circumvent the law.

The Gabriela solon also notes that amendments being introduced in the bill to extend the CARP implementation does not in any way change the provisions that has kept the peasants landless. “The bill does not in its essence contain any program for reform.”

Gabriela solons Maza and Luz Ilagan are instead pushing for HB3059 or
the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill along with Rep. Crispin Beltran (Anakpawis) and Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino (Bayan Muna).

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Filed under Agrarian Reform, Agriculture, News Release, Peasant


Members of Gabriela Women’s Partylist today stormed the office of the National Food Authority(NFA) to denounce the pull-out of NFA rice priced at P18.25 from most of the 108 public markets in the National Capital Region. The P25 high variety rice from the United States was said to replace the cheaper NFA rice in the markets.

GWP protest at the NFA makes the front page

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the women’s party, said this move will aggravate the situation of the largely impoverished consumers, who cannot afford the P25/kilo rice.

“What the government needs to institute is a price control mechanism that will keep the prices of NFA rice at lower levels,” she said.
Palabay cited the Price Act of 1992 giving authorizing the President and the Department of Trade and Industry to impose price freeze and controls in times of calamities.

Fe Ramirez, a housewife from Brgy. Batasan Hills and member of the group, said mothers find it difficult to make ends meet, especially after the P18.25 NFA rice was replaced by the P25/kilo rice in the markets.

“Ito na nga lang ang bigas na kahit paano’y kaya naming bilhin, tatanggalin pa sa mga pamilihang pinupunta namin,” Ramirez commented. She said NFA rice stationed for sale at barangay centers are accessible only to those who are favored by barangay officials.

“Mas konti rin ang suplay ng bigas sa mga barangay kesa sa mga palengke. Karamihan din sa amin ay dagdag na gumagastos pa ng pamasahe sa pagpunta sa mga center,” she added.

Palabay also criticized Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap’s statement favoring the elimination of price rice subsidy, saying this will push market prices of NFA rice higher.

“Clearly, Yap and Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are abetting the crisis by employing measures which are either detrimental to the poor or by churning up public relations gimmicks to salvage her already torn and tattered record,” she concluded. ##

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Filed under Agriculture, News Release, Poverty, Women


The militant women’s partylist group Gabriela today criticized as a mere spin, President Arroyo‘s supposed bid to have pro-poor measures passed including a measure implementing tax exemption for minimum wage earners.

“This is but an attempt to appease growing restiveness as prices of oil, rice and basic commodities continue to rise. The truth is, a great majority of the population will not at all benefit from this measure,” said Rep. Maza.

According to Maza, statistics from the Department of Labor and Employment would reveal that only 7.9M of the country’s workers receive wages equivalent to the minimum wage or even lower. This is not even half of the country’s total labor force which is estimated at 37M.

“This token relief is almost insulting. Majority of the impoverished population do not even have jobs, much less wages to speak of. Most women in urban poor communities for example have resorted to various odd jobs like doing the laundry, vending food, or doing home service manicures,” said Maza.

The Gabriela solon instead pushed for HB3433 repealing the Reform Value Added Tax law which will benefit not just a few workers but the entire population. Repealing the RVAT is expected to cut prices of commodities by as much as 12%. Gasoline and diesel prices will be reduced by over P5.00.

“We challenge Congress to tackle and immediately approve the repeal of the RVAT and other genuine pro-poor measures.” #

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As Congress sets to deliberate anew on proposals to extend the comprehensive agrarian reform program, representatives of the militant partylist group Gabriela today said extending the failed CARP will inevitably lead to a rice crisis of larger proportions and to further food insecurity in the coming years.

“A closer look at trends in agricultural production and agrarian reform indicates that CARP allowed corporations and elite families to maintain and even expand land ownership, through the conversion of
agricultural lands dedicated to rice production to industrial and residential use, or the conversion of rice and corn crops to so-called cash crops,” said Rep. Maza.

Rep. Maza said the National Statistics Office revealed farmlands fell from 9.9M hectares to 9.7M hectares from 1991 to 2002. Palay farmlands on the other hand fell 4M hectares in 2005, from 4.13M in 2004.

Rep. Luz Ilagan who hails from Mindanao said CARP’s implementation largely benefitted big corporations in Mindanao like DOLE, Global Fruit, Blooming Petals and Upland Banana Corporation who have transformed South Cotabato from a rice producing province into one now sprawling with pineapples, bananas, asparagus and papaya all for export.

“To think that Mindanao used to be able to produce enough rice not just for the island but for the provinces in the Visayas as well. Now we cannot even meet our own demands for rice,” laments Ilagan.

Maza and Ilagan said they are set to oppose proposals to extend CARP when the House of Representatives Committee on Agrarian Reform meets tomorrow.

“We are pushing for HB3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, to allow landless peasants access to land, irrigation and support for farm implements, as well as fair market pricing of their produce. We need to learn our lessons. Extending the failed CARP will spell disaster.” #

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Filed under Agriculture, Mindanao, News Release, Peasant


Women’s partylist group Gabriela today said the move of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs reverting House Resolution 124 to the committee level is a possible indication that the Japanese government has started meddling into deliberations on legislative measures pertaining to the comfort women.

“It is disappointing that the Philippine Congress appears to be dilly-dallying on this measure while similar resolutions have been approved in the United States, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. It appears they are caving in to pressure from the Japanese government. Rep. Liza Maza said.

Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan who attended today’s executive committee hearing said “This is another setback to the continuing struggle of Filipino comfort women for justice. Filipina victims of sexual abuse during World War II more than deserve the support of the Philippine Congress.”

Earlier news reports reveal that the question of quorum was raised to the Committee secretary by a member of the Japanese diplomatic corps that sat as an observer during the hearing last March 11.

“No member of Congress has expressed their objection to this resolution that hopes to add pressure to the Japanese government to formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility over the sexual slavery of young women during WWII. No member of congress raised question on the usual procedure that committees undergo in the approval of legislative measures. It just took one member of Japan’s diplomatic corps to question the quorum last March 11 to shake the Committee.”

“We feel this is a result of Japanese government intervention, and an insult to the independence of the House of Representatives. ”

Both Maza and Ilagan remain hopeful for the immediate passage of the resolution. “The victims are in their twilight years and their demands are just. It would be heartless, unjust and cowardly for Congress to ignore this legislative effort to support the cause of the Lolas for the sake of Japanese interests.”

Today, comfort women and advocates from South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Indonesia, United States and Taiwan visited the House of Representatives as they sought a legislative dialogue with authors of HR 124, members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and House Speaker Prospero Nograles.#

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Filed under Comfort women, Foreign Affairs, News Release, VAW, Women


“The persecution of critics is a crisis management strategy of the Arroyo government. That fabricated cases of murder, kidnapping and rebellion are being revived against progressive partylist representatives in the midst of a worsening rice crisis, unemployment and urgent demands for wage hikes and price controls, show this governments determination to eliminate dissenting voices and legitimate protests. The timing is impeccable.”

This was the statement issued today by Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Largoza Maza as she joined Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano and legal counsel Romeo Capulong in a press conference to refuting the recent cases of murder and kidnapping filed against them in Nueva Ecija.

“These are the same cases which were used against the disqualification case filed against us in the Commission on Elections. These are no different from the cases which have all been dismissed by the Supreme Court for lack of evidence. Why resurrect them?” said the Gabriela solon who just arrived from the Inter Parliamentary Union to give the international body an update on the case of the Batasan 6.

“International condemnation has not kept the Arroyo government from making political persecution, extra judicial killings and abductions as a policy. This is a clear betrayal of this government’s growing insecurity as the crisis worsens and public unrest brews.”

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Filed under Human Rights, News Release, Persecution, Political


Assistant Minority Floor Leader and Gabriela Partylist Rep. Liza Maza today said it would be best for Malacanang to certify as urgent, bills
that will implement a legislated wage increase for workers rather than to just allow the regional wage boards to decide on the wage hikes.

“Workers have long clamored for a P125 across the board legislated wage hike. While this amount would still not give workers an income that would be at par with the daily cost of living, this amount would at least give significant relief from the high cost of commodities. While wage boards may decide on a P20 wage hike or even lower, this
cannot even buy a kilo of rice,” said Maza.

The Gabriela solon insisted the legislated increase would benefit the estimated 33.7 million Filipino workers, including regular employees and those under contract as well.

Moreover, she said wage boards should do away with mere COLA increases. “The COLA increases do not translate to an increase in
other compensation and benefits based on the workers’ basic wage like the overtime pay and night differentials, ” they explained.

Maza also cautioned Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo, chairperson of the House Committee on Labor for prematurely dismissing the legislated wage hike proposal. “Bills filed in Congress should at the minimum be discussed and debated on.”

Gunigundo had earlier said he preferred to let the regional wage boards do the work.

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