November 26, 2022

True essence of women making change in society

Celebrated every March, Women’s Month aims to recognize the accomplishments and crucial role of women in society. It aims to inspire and empower women by challenging gender stereotypes and traditional gender roles.
The country has seen women performing their best in powerful roles, even some in male-dominated industries both in the country and abroad.
With this year’s theme “We make change work for women” anchored on the commitment of “Malasakit at pagbabago”, genuine change and true intentions are called for.
But over the past years, some groups such as the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, National Democratic Front and its allied organizations have been exploiting social issues on women’s rights as an attempt to recruit members to take up arms against the government. Amid this, it has been recorded that some officers of the NPA have been allegedly sexually abusing their female members.
In 2020, a former chairperson of a militant group in Luzon shared that when she was between 19 to 20 years old, she was raped three times by her commander before leaving the movement. Another former rebel, “Ka Eric” reported members caught raping someone will be executed. But this may not be true for all members, whose crimes are being covered up.
In the same year, one alias “Shane”, aged 17 years old, has filed a rape complaint before the prosecutor’s office in Leyte against one NPA commander named Paterno Opo after she and her sister “Ruffa” surrendered to authorities in June 2020. They escaped from the NPA group when they were told to collect food in a nearby community.
Shane and Ruffa suffered sexual abuses with the latter getting pregnant and was deprived of appropriate medical care. Their parents and younger brothers are still active members of the underground movement in northwestern Leyte.
“Banjie”, who served as a medic of the NPA surrendered to troops after being sexually-abused and impregnated by her fellow rebel.
Another female NPA member “Denden”, who served as a “militia ng bayan” for seven years, has surrendered when she can no longer endure the hardships experienced in the communist movement. Denden wishes to live a peaceful life with her eight children.
Throughout the years, more and more female rebels have been surrendering after suffering sexual abuses by NPA commanders.
The implementation of Executive Order 70 that institutionalizes the whole-of-nation approach has been beneficial in assisting them along with other former rebels in returning to the folds of law through government programs and forms of assistance.
This makes the fight against terrorism and insurgency no longer the sole responsibility of government troops, but of the different government agencies and local government units.
As the country celebrates Women’s Month, citizens must remain vigilant of the deceptive recruitment of the CPP-NPA-NDF on women to be fighters who are most likely to be prone to physical and sexual abuses. These very acts are grave violations of the rights and freedom of women and go against the country’s goal to promote women empowerment through true intentions and right actions. — MA. LOUISA FOLIGAN, Quezon City

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