Gabriela Women’s Party Protests Rising Power Rates and Proposed Constitutional Amendments

STARTING THEM YOUNG The youth sector of the Gabriela Women’s Group leads an anti-charter change protest on Mendiola in Manila, on Friday, March 1, 2024, at the start of Women’s Month. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA
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The Gabriela Women’s Party recently commenced the celebration of Women’s Month in the Philippines with a protest rally addressing two pressing issues: rising power rates and the proposed amendment to the Constitution. The party, particularly concerned about the impact on poor Filipino women, voiced their opposition to these developments.

Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas emphasized that while Filipino families are already grappling with increasing expenses, the government is pushing for charter change and the opening of the economy to 100-percent foreign ownership. Brosas pointed out that the recent increase in power rates by the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) only adds to the burden. The rise of P0.5738 per kilowatt-hour, or P11.9168 per month, further strains the already stretched budgets of many households.

“Instead of addressing the escalating prices of utilities such as power and water, the government is prioritizing Charter Change, despite public disapproval,” Brosas stated. She further highlighted that the privatization of power generation in the Philippines has contributed to the ongoing power problems faced by the country. Additionally, Brosas drew attention to the broken promises associated with previous foreign direct investments, which failed to deliver on reducing the cost of goods and services.

In Valenzuela City, the celebration of National Women’s Month commenced with a vibrant event called “Zumba for Wellness, Equality, and Sensitivity” at the People’s Park Amphitheater. Thousands of zumba enthusiasts from the city’s 33 barangays (villages), city hall employees, representatives from the city police, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and Schools Division Office actively participated in the event. Notably, members of the Men Opposing Violence Everywhere (MOVE) and various faith-based groups also joined in the dance choreography.

Mayor Weslie “Wes” Gatchalian and the city’s first lady, Tiffany Gatchalian, expressed their support for gender equality and an inclusive society during the event. Mrs. Gatchalian emphasized that the promotion of women’s empowerment and a healthy lifestyle through dancing were key objectives of the celebration.

The theme for this year’s Women’s Month celebration is “Lipunang Patas sa Bagong Pilipinas; Kakayahan ng Kababaihan, Patutunayan!” Translated as “A Just Society in the New Philippines; The Capabilities of Women, Proven!” the theme highlights the need for a new Philippines where women are provided with equal opportunities and not hindered by gender biases and discriminatory stereotypes. The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) has championed this theme, calling for a society that ensures equitable opportunities for women.

Mayor Gatchalian shared that a series of activities have been organized to support the theme, including orientations and training sessions that promote the importance of various laws, such as the “Anti-Bastos” Law. Furthermore, the city is focusing on handling gender abuse cases in the academe with care and conducting seminars on postpartum mental health for new mothers.

As the celebration of Women’s Month in the Philippines gains momentum, it serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by women in the country. Advocacy for gender equality and addressing economic issues, such as rising power rates, remain at the forefront of the discussions. The events and initiatives organized during this month aim to create a more inclusive society where women can thrive and contribute to the progress of the nation.

Source: The Manila Times

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