October 15, 2008
IMELDA LACANDAZO, KMP National Vice Chairperson (63-918-299- 57-80)
ROY MORILLA, Public Information Officer (63-905-421- 7305)
Peasant group marks International Day of Rural Women
by sneaking at Mendiola
With other women groups, marches to call for land, food and justice
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the
Philippines) marks October 15 – International Day of Rural Women by
marching sneakily towards Malacanang and holding a program with women
organizations such as Amihan (National Federation of Peasant Women),
Gabriela and other progressive groups. The annual commemoration is getting
bigger as other groups and sectors continue to recognize the role of
peasant women in agriculture and national economy. Also, the venue is
getting nearer to Malacanang as previous actions were held in front of the
Department of Agriculture office in Quezon City.
Prior, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 15 as the day
for rural women last December, thus this is the first commemoration with
formal recognition from the world body. Obviously, an anticipated result
as women and people's organizations around the world hold activities
annually since 1995, since concretely the role of peasant women deserves
to be recognized and honored.
"The essential commemoration of this day is to struggle for genuine
agrarian reform," opened Imelda Lacandazo, KMP National Vice-Chairperson.
"As peasant women issues are integrated to the realization of genuine
agrarian reform, and the real force behind the exploitation and oppression
of women at the countryside is the existence of a semi-feudal political
and economic set-up, we should link arms with other sectors," Lacandazo
"In most areas, women and children working at their farms are ignored and
treated simply as unpaid family labor, thus, the real income the family
generates per capita is essentially lower," added Lacandazo. "This is a
blatant tolerance of the government, worse, they treat them as employed to
doll up their labor statistics," she added.
"Moreover, there are many cases that women farmworkers earn lower, same
case with youth farmworkers, " shared Lacandazo. "In despotic areas such
as in Negros, women sugarworkers earn P60 per day while the standard is at
P80, children working earn a measly P40," Lacandazo pictured. She added,
"In `pakyawan' system, the women and children totally work for free to aid
their husbands and fathers. This is brought about by the strong political
and economic power of the landlords that depress contract prices and their
incomes, and the government is feeble about it."
"The worst cases are when peasant women become household maids of
landlords for free, hoping to keep them on their lands, there are also
cases where daughters are matched with the landlords by their families,
these are bitter truths that occur, because there are no genuine agrarian
reform," Lacandazo explained.
Also, women are usually in charge of daily needs such as food, thus, they
primarily cope with the rising prices of goods such as rice. "They are the
ones whose head aches when it comes to buying food such as rice. There are
many instances that they don't eat rice and bear with root and other food
crops," shared Lacandazo.
As being leaders and members of KMP local chapters, they become targets
and victims of human rights violations by government forces. "They are
also victims of human rights violations, worse, some are already at old
age, they are never spared," Lacandazo deplored.
"Thus, this action of celebrating the International Day of Rural Women
would only be essential and significant if it would be towards genuine
agrarian reform, we are calling for land, food and justice," explained
Lacandazo. "But as we know that Macapagal-Arroyo is hopeless, merciless
and considerate of the peasantry in general, more with the peasant women,
we learned our lessons, nothing good will happen if she is still in power.
We, the peasant women will join other oppressed sectors and groups to oust
her from office," declared Lacandazo.#
Statement on the Occasion
of World Rural Women’s Day and World Foodless Day
16 October 2008
By Innabuyog, alliance of indigenous women’s organizations in the
Alliance of Peasant in the Cordillera Homeland
We Fight Hunger, We Fight Poverty! We Assert our Survival!
Government says you live with P46.00 a day or P16,810.00 per annum
(US358.00). This is the poverty threshold in the Cordillera according to
the National Statistics Coordinating Board (NSCB). This is half the
poverty threshold prescribed by the World Bank and International Labor
Organization of US$2.00 a day.
But rural and urban poor women say that this is not even enough to buy one
day’s square meals for one person. On the other hand, government also says
that the daily family living wage in the Cordillera is P834.00 (US$17.7)
and 20% of this is allocated for food. Women say that with their current
income of P50-250.00 (US$1-5.3) a day, 80-100% of their family income is
spent on food. Oftentimes, the income is not even enough to buy the
family’s food of rice and viand.
The current level of poverty in the Cordillera region and in the country
give women an added burden of stretching the measly resources of their
In Conner, indigenous peasant women say that what used to be food for the
family is now brought to market in order to add to the family’s cash
source. Before, it was easy to share rice, vegetables, fruits and other
food products to neighbors and relatives. With the economic crisis now,
the women say there is hardly a food item to share. What little produce
that the family may spare, are sold to buy other food needs. The produce
is not even enough for the family with production getting costlier, the
attack of pests, irrigation problems and change in climate pattern. What
used to be part of the meal like meat, fish and milk for the children, are
reduced if not taken out from the budget. This situation is echoed by
other women in other parts of the region, in the interior villages, in
town and urban centers.
The face of hunger and poverty in the Cordillera may not have reached
starvation levels but obviously, families are forced to adjust in the
volume and quality of food for their families. Women say that what cannot
be absent in their kitchen is rice thus all means to provide and seek is
done by them and their husbands. This usually means separation of family
members as one parent, even women, set to other places for wage labor or
overseas as domestic workers. All remedies to ensure food for the family
are sought by women—vending, wage labor, loans and availing of small
livelihood projects of the government which hardly help in alleviating the
rural women’s economic conditions . Indeed this situation creates the
vulnerability of women to deception, to patronage politics, violence
against women, and engagement to anti-social activities.
Today, we observe the 13th year of the World Rural Women’s Day and the
29th year of World Food Day. As rural indigenous women, we no longer enjoy
abundance of food in our farms and kitchens. As toiling women in town and
urban centers, we do not have the just wage and secured livelihood to feed
our children with the right volume and quality of food. Families living
under poverty thresholds in the Cordillera increased to 28.8% as compared
to 25.8% in 2003 (NSCB). Cordillera provinces except for Benguet are part
of the top 20 poorest provinces in the country. Apayao and Abra top the
poverty incidence of 57.5% and 50% respectively.
The real poverty situation
among rural and urban poor women is more downright than these government
Hunger and poverty is worsened
by the inflation rate of 11.4%, the highest in the last 14 years. Rice
price rose by 60%, other food commodities followed suit, aggravated by the
non-stop oil price hikes of more than P20.00 per liter.
Hunger and poverty is also worsened by the continuing militarization of
the countryside and the government’s national mineral liberalization
program that offered more than 60% of the Cordillera land to foreign
Hunger and poverty has been acknowledged by the Department of Education as
the cause for the increased drop-outs among children. The malnutrition
rate remains high among rural children in the region despite government’s
Food-for- School Program.
National governments and international economic institutions speak about
solving the global hunger and poverty problem targeting to reduce global
poverty by one half in 2015 through the Millennium Development Plan. It is
alarming that 1.4 billion people or almost a quarter of the world’s
population, live below the international poverty line, or earning below
US$1.25 a day (World Bank). Each year, 5.6 million children aged 5 years
and below die as a result of malnutrition. The hunger and poverty
situation is aggravated by the soaring of food prices which became
particularly steep in the 1st months of 2008(report of the UNSR on Food).
Overall, the price of food commodities on the international markets rose
by 83% over the last 36 months.
However, the current global food crisis should not be used by the GMA
government as its excuse for the country’s food and economic crisis. It
only shows the vulnerability of the Philippine economy being
export-oriented and import dependent and driven by neoliberal
globalization. While the GMA government has earmarked P366 billion for
it’s Anti-poverty Program which is distributed to National Social Welfare
program amounting to P45 billion, the Noah’s Ark Framework amounting to
P316 billion and Hunger Mitigation Program amounting to P5 billion, the
results of these programs have yet to be seen in the quality of life of
poor indigenous women and their communities.
The indigenous peasant women’s organizations in the Cordillera and
Innabuyog joins rural women and the peasant organizations in the country
and the whole world in their actions to decry the hunger and poverty
situation and assert their food sovereignty. At the international level,
Innabuyog links with the efforts of the People’s Coalition on Food
Sovereignty (PCFS), Pesticide Action Network-Asia Pacific (PAN-AP), the
Don’t Globalize Hunger campaign of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law
and Development (APWLD), Asia Peasant Coalition and the Asia Rural Women’s
Innabuyog asserts that food can only be secured with a healthy economic
condition where the government has the political will to address the
age-old problem of land reform, enable the development of national
industries that truly develops national economy, support for domestic food
production, respect for indigenous peoples’ rights to their ancestral
lands and of their resources and get rid of liberalization policies which
kill the development of agriculture and domestic food production.
As we assert our survival and the survival of future generations, we will
not allow ourselves to be defeated by dole-outs, state terrorism and never
will we bow down to the capitalist greed on our land and food resources.
We will continue to assert our right to our land , and defend our food
resources and harvest.