以下、APWLD (Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and
SALUTE TO SISTERHOOD AND SOLIDARITY
“Now, we can breathe the free air.”
This is what Liza Maza said as she flung open the gates
of the Philippine House of Congress yesterday, May 8, and
walked out amidst cheers, clapping and chants of family
members, fellow activists and supporters. After 70 days
and nights spent inside the building of Congress, Liza
Maza of GABRIELA Women
’s Party was finally free to walk out of the compound,
along with the other four Party List representatives –
Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño and Joel Virador of
Bayan Muna, and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis Party. These
five sought the protective custody of the House of
Congress after threats of arrests were made due to their
alleged involvement in plans to unseat President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo last February.
The Makati Regional Trial Court dismissed last Thursday
the rebellion charges filed against the five legislators
and more than 40 other people, including Tita Lubi.
This is a step to victory – not just for Liza and
Tita, but to all women and men who are relentlessly
fighting for their rights and their freedom. This is also
a celebration of sisterhood and international solidarity.
APWLD members immediately and generously responded to
calls for support to Liza, Tita and other human rights
defenders in the Philippines.
Purple Calls for the dismissal of charges against Liza and
Tita, and the end of persecution of women human rights
defenders were issued to Philippine Embassies in different
countries. Women actions were held in Indonesia (led by
Solidaritas Perempuan and BINADESA), in Thailand (P&M
members Virada Somswasdi and Wannee Thitiprasert; and the
Secretariat), and in Tamil Nadu, India (Regional Council
member Fathima Burnad and SRED). Petitions were sent to
the Philippine embassies in Australia (Regional Council
member Alisson Aggarwal), Mongolia (CHRD) and Malaysia
(Sisters in Islam).
These acts of solidarity added pressure to the beleaguered
Arroyo administration. These also uplifted the spirits of
our P&M member Tita, who was emailing the secretariat
every now and then to thank all of us, and Liza.
While Liza, Tita and the others can breathe free air for
now, the fight is far from over. The Arroyo administration
warned that the charges were dismissed on technicality,
and that they can still be revived. The rebellion charges
against another progressive legislator Crispin Beltran
have not been dropped. Beltran, 73 years old, remains
under arrest and is currently confined in the hospital.
On the other hand, political killings have not abated.
Almost every week, we are receiving news and data on
killings of activists, community organisers and leaders.
Until and unless fundamental changes are achieved, there
will be no genuine freedom and democracy in the
Let us continue to support the fight of Liza, Tita and
other countless women human rights defenders. Let us
still call –
End all forms of persecution of women human rights
Stop political Killings.