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Women’s rights have been in the forefront of international concern over the last few weeks.

Up in arms against rape

Making the biggest headlines were the massive demonstrations in New Delhi and other cities in India provoked by the brutal gang-rape by six men of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in a moving bus in the Indian capital.   The crime, which saw the victim suffer extremely serious wounds in her genitals and intestines, proved to be the trigger for the release of popular anger that had built up over the years over the rise in violence against women.

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Akbayan Party-list joins the Filipino people in celebrating our historic victory in the passage of the Reproductive Health bill in the second reading of the House of Representatives. Through Representatives Walden Bello and Kaka Bag-ao, Akbayan reiterated the voice of the people when it voted for life, choice, and reproductive health rights. We join the people in enjoying the fruit of more than a decade of struggle—a long and arduous journey towards the enactment of a law that will uphold and safeguard their right to a better future. Finally, after years of perseverance, the people have emerged triumphant.

This would not have been possible if not for the countless Filipino women who courageously took responsibility to lead this difficult task. Now, we have a key policy tool that does not only provide the people with the widest array of options to plan and manage their families but also, and more importantly, aids in restoring the dignity of women and in improving the quality of their health. Truly, the RH Bill’s victory in Congress is a significant leap forward for the Filipino woman.

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The Kilusan sa Pambansang Demokrasya (Movement for National Democracy) successfully held its Fourth National Congress in the City of Baguio on November 28-30, 2012 with the theme: Assiduously conduct political and organizational consolidation! Expose and Oppose Imperialism and Neocolonialism! Persevere in the Fight for National Democracy.

The former National Council decided on the theme bearing in mind that the policies of the present government in the Philippines, while appearing to improve governance and the fiscal situation of the country, cater primarily to the interests of foreign monopoly capitalists. The Aquino administration adheres in every respect to neoliberalism despite the glaring and apalling reality that this brought the capitalist world to the crisis that exploded in 2008, has not been remedied and is deepening.

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“The exposure of children to high-powered American war machines is a subtle way of inculcating into their young minds the culture of war,” said GWP Rep. Emmi De Jesus in reaction to the PDI banner photo of a smiling US marine letting a boy peek into his gun scope during the on-going 10-day Philippine-US Amphibious Landing Exercise (Philblex) 2013.

“It is ironic that as we celebrate National Children's Month this October in recognition of the children as the hope of the future, these same children are being utilized as propaganda materials for the idea of ‘humanizing’ wars and to make Balikatan exercises more acceptable to the public,” added De Jesus.

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Manila, Philippines: Gabriela Women's Party Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi De Jesus are now sisters, having Scandal as their new surnames.

“We added Scandal to our Facebook surname to express our concern over the proliferation of internet scandals as a form of Electronic Violence Against Women (EVAW) and to support Gabriela’s Bury the Past Project,” explained Rep. Emmi De Jesus.

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On the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2012, we, Filipino women declare in strongest terms possible, our opposition not only to increased presence but to U.S. military presence per se on Philippine soil.

    The United States is increasing its military presence in Asia-Pacific, in particular in the Philippines, and the Philippine government is showing no qualms in allowing this to happen.

A news account recently reported of the United States’ plan to increase its military aid to “boost” Philippine defense; the promised aid will amount to US$144 million, reflecting an increase of more than US$20 million on the previous amount. In another earlier news article, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas was quoted as saying his government had spent US$50 million for the upgrading of Philippine military facilities.

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MANILA, Philippines – In a society where women are mostly in-charge of managing the household budget, higher electricity rates mean additional burdens and deeper indebtedness for Filipino women, especially those who already find it hard to make ends meet.

Members of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) – Women’s Committee picketing the office of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in Ortigas Center, sent this message to oppose an impending new wave of electricity rate hikes.

The National Power Corporation (Napocor) and Power Sector Assets Liabilities Management (PSALM) filed petitions with the ERC for the recovery of stranded debts and contract costs amounting to almost P140 billion. This translates to 40 centavos per kilowatt-hour that, with ERC’s go-ahead, will be collected through the universal charge.

Judy Ann Chan-Miranda of the FDC Women’s Committee urged the regulatory body to junk the petition of Napocor and PSALM, stressing that it is “anti-women” and “anti-poor.”

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The latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey showing an increase in hunger is a major concern that must be taken seriously and not brushed off in a squabble over statistics. According to the March 4-7 poll 20.5% of respondents -- or an estimated 4.1 million families -- have gone hungry at least once in the past three months. This is up from the estimated 3.4 million families recorded in November 2010, i.e., almost one million extra families are going hungry today due to poverty. Along with the other examples of poverty and marginalization – such as the shocking deaths of up to 30 people in Palawan, including children, due to easily preventable ailments such as diarrhea – this demonstrates that the situation of the masses is deteriorating.

What is equally of concern to us is the response of President Noynoy Aquino: his expression of disbelief at the survey results. According to the President the figures are skewed because the impact of the conditional cash transfers (CCT) measures of the government implemented in Visayas and Mindanao, have not been reflected in the survey.

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A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an "unrecognizable" world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference Sunday.

The United Nations has predicted the global population will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, "with almost all of the growth occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia," said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council.

To feed all those mouths, "we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000," said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

"By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable" if current trends continue, Clay said.

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We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, express our most militant greetings to women all over the world and join you in the celebration of the centennial of the International Women’s Day. The history and current trend of militant women’s struggle must be highlighted in the midst of the global depression and chaos that pervade the various regions of the world today.

The first International Toiling Women’s Day was proclaimed in 1911, to mark the role of the women in the industrial revolution and celebrate the gains of the women who marched to the streets to fight for their rights and welfare.  During that time, the exploitation of women and children in the factories, in the fields and in their homes fed capitalism and allowed it to flourish.

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