On the centennial celebration of International Women’s Day, March 8, the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) and supporters will march on Congress, with over 6,000 people expected to mobilize, becoming the largest pro-RH demonstration in Philippine history. They intend to send a clear message to the Catholic church that they are losing support.
Dr. Junice L.D. Melgar, the Executive Director of Likhaan Center for Women’s Health and the secretary-general of RHAN said “With the extremist language and actions of the bishops and their allies, women are seeking for spiritual inspiration elsewhere. This will worsen as the bishops’ intransigence on the RH bill continues.”
Kiko dela Tonga, heading the Youth Consortium for the RH Bill, spoke for young adult supporters, many of whom will be marching: “If the church thinks that sexual education will put impure thoughts in the heads of youth, that just shows how out-of-touch they are with what’s happening with today’s youth. We’re already getting information at a young age from the media and from each other, but we need it from a more reliable source: teachers that can help us protect ourselves.”
Ryan Tani, President of the Filipino Freethinkers, an organization promoting secularism in government commented on the the unprecedented level of support for non-interference of the church in government affairs. “Filipinas fear the Church no longer. Last Sunday, for the first time in history, over a thousand women marched to the CBCP headquarters with one clear message: We’ve had enough. These women have made it clear; the bishops are no longer in control of their lives. Filipinas are free. They have always been free, but now more than ever they’re making sure the CBCP knows.”
Over 3,600 marchers will assemble at 1pm at the Commission on Human Rights and at 1:30pm will march to St. Peter Parish. Groups include the Youth Consortium for the RH Bill, the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DWSP), Freedom from Debt Coalition-Women’s Committee, MAKALAYA, PATAMABA, Partido ng Manggagawa, PILAKK, and many more. Another group of over 2,400 marchers will assemble at St. Peter Parish between 2pm and 3pm, and at 3:30pm, the entire assembled group of over 6,000 will march on the House of Representatives. At 5pm a Cultural and Solidarity Program at the sidewalk across South wing gate will commence. RH personalities are scheduled to speak and Pinikpikan, Kontra Gapi, Cooky Chua, Bayang Barrios, Cynthia Alexander, Lolita Carbon and many more are scheduled to perform.
Over 1,000 of the marchers are with the DWSP. “The Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, a national federation of more than 300 community-based women’s groups with about 40,000 members is marching with our sisters. With the Catholic hierarchy’s more aggressive moves against the RH Bill, it also widens its distance from the faithful, many of whom are women. They–especially those from poor communities–are increasingly questioning the bishops’ relevance to their lives. On this day, we ask the Catholic hierarchy to listen to our voices. Our lives are at stake here and they should care. We need the RH bill to pass, ” said Elizabeth Angsioco, DSWP National Chair.
This RHAN event is part of the “RH, Ipasa Na” campaign, a nationally-coordinated effort that began with a rally at Congress in mid-February.
For more information on RH Bill advocacy activities, visit http://rhbillph.wordpress.com
visit http://www.rhbill.org ; http://www.likhaan.org/