Arroyo policies makes life harder for IP women

Aug. 04, 2008

Davao City- Lumad (indigenous) women attending a large gathering of indigenous people (IP) in this city criticized President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo economic policies which they say have done nothing for them in the eight years she has been in office.

Rather than improving their lives, the indigenous women say that Arroyo’s policies have only worsened their situation. This is because her administration’s targets, such as those presented during the latest state of the nation address (SONA), ignore the real needs of the people in favor of investment priorities.

According to the IP women, the flawed development policies impact directly on their communities, and are particularly felt by them.

“She is also a mother, she should know what burdens we already bear for our families. But rather than helping, her policies instead impose additional burdens on us,” Gina Malumpong, a B’laan from South Cotabato, one of the participants of the State of Indigenous Peoples Address held in Toril, this city, said.

According to the IP women participants, development projects such as large-scale mining and plantations have resulted in the massive displacement of lumads from their ancestral homes. For the lumads this has meant increasing incidence of hunger since displacement from their ancestral lands removes them from traditional sources of food.

“Indigenous women can no longer feed their children. As a result we are forced to come down to the lowlands to work as maids so we can at least earn some money to buy food for the family,”says Gina. “If the President truly cared for women and mothers like she said in her speech, she should at least help us feed our families. The 500 pesos subsidy of her government has never reached us.”

Norma Capuyan, a tagabawa-bagobo, say that Arroyo has not done anything for women. “What her government has brought to us is increased vulnerabilities to violence.” Norma said that as a community organizer, she has documented stories of rape and sexual abuse of B’laan women during military operations in Saranggani. “Poverty and militarization are what we get from her so-called development programs.”

“Arroyo should visit our communities so to see what our real situation is. Her SONA is only for Malacanang, it does not reflect the realities we lumad women face,” Malumpong added.

Gina and Norma are part of the 140 indigenous peoples particpants of the 3-day conference which will culminate in an Indigenous Peoples Solidarty March on July 31 at the Freedom Park where the participants will symbolically turn over the SIPA document to party-list representatives and local government officials.

LRC-KsK Davao Office

479-A General Luna St., Davao City

Tel No.: 082 221 3380



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