The Magnificat canticle of Mary the women and men’s song of today:

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;

52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones

and exalted those of humble estate;

53 he has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.(Luke 2)


           It is not so that women are to be neutral, compliant, and silent in the midst of patriarchy, racial and class domination, and state-led tyranny.

In its failure to address the roots of the armed conflict and poverty,  the government has devised a scheme that would suppress and oppress the rising people’s resistance against injustice and human rights violations.  In its inability to address drug addiction and to quell the illegal drug trade, it has resorted to a murderous bloody onslaught against the poor.  To justify its violation of human rights, it is resuscitating a method that had been proven to be anti-people and anti-people.

There is no such a thing as martial law with a heart. Not only is farcical to believe otherwise; it is also insulting to the sensibilities of the people.   The proclamation of martial law alone represents an iron rule. Pages of history are witnesses to untold stories of abuses. Martial law and tyranny have been the mechanism of dictators by which to plunder the nation’s wealth. The Marcos family was able to steal billions of dollars from the people’s  coffers because Martial law licensed them to do so.

The ecumenical movement in the Philippines during martial law was dynamic, vibrant, engaging, and prophetic.  The movement responded to the needs of the people and defied the martial law and the dictatorship of Marcos. It was a time when the ecumenical movement was nourished by the struggle of the people in defense of human rights and the pursuit of national sovereignty. Pages of  Philippine history and traditional narratives and poetry speak well how many church people have fulfilled their prophetic and priestly ministries.  While passivity, servility, and submission to the ruling authorities was an option to take, many church people took the opposite. In defiance of the political line of Marcos, they subverted with the people the dictatorship. They messed up the logic of  Marcos’  fascism because that was their way to put at the fore the sanctity of life and the dignity of man and woman.

There is no reason why the ecumenical movement can not do the same.  The Church’s relevance and meaning become flesh and spirit when she becomes a co- Emmanuel in the suffering and struggle of the people, where faith, hope and love need to be asserted, practiced and lived out.  Likewise, the Church becomes co-“Emmanuel” in the celebration of victory over fear, doubt, and indifference, and when she fulfills the salvific and unifying commandment of LOVE YOUR GOD AND YOUR NEIGHBOR.

In the same breath, it is an international/ global responsibility to fight tyranny.  A tyrant could only do much when the world is silent and conforming.  As the world experiences crisis. the global ecumenical movement can build solidarity and action in challenging an order/system that breeds tyranny and fosters exploitative and oppressive class rule.

Mary’s song rejects the powerful and arrogant who steal from people, not only food and basic rights, but also their freedom, dignity, and a promising future. Mary’sMagnificat promises that the tyrants will be brought from their thrones. Her song is the people’s song with our women’s voices in the lead. ##


Darlene  Marquez Caramanzana


Association of Women in Theology








BOOK REVIEW – AWIT’s Pinay Magnificat: Living Out Our Theology


23915934_10155991964472940_38073685154227264_nI feel elated being in the midst of women but I can’t help feeling somewhat misplaced because the issue of Violence Against Women points accusing fingers to men as perpetrators of the crime. “The perpetrators are the male,” says one contributor to this book. The book we focus on questions our very own system of patriarchy where power relations are limited to, dominated and dictated by men. However, it is my personal belief that the insights gained by and from this book should benefit men to a large extent.

The part of the book that I have taken interest in and which I believe makes the work exemplary is the personal knowledge of the authors on the realities of the topic. They all have a story of tell! And every story that every author has written about is relevant and presented in a unique manner. This provides concrete evidence to my assertion, that if we don’t talk about Violence Against Women, we won’t hear about it. But if we start to talk about it, then that is when we truly hear about it! This is the book’s great contribution – exposing the violence that kills, that has killed women! This is the book’s great contribution, considering that in this time and age where there is no more trimming of information, there shouldn’t any fear of exposing what to us is relevant to the time, what to us is hurting the very least in our society, and what to us needs the attention of both church and civil leaders of our time.

Although there is a wealth of knowledge on how patriarchy has remained persistent in our time, and which shuts women from upward socio-economic mobility, during my review, I was in search for a clear mention that women have not lost their innate dignity no matter how much they have ended up being grossly victimized. Great! But not for a great majority. I was just reading in the internet, an article from the National Catholic Reporter, written by Heidi Schlumpf. The article begins with a story of this girl – “Jessica Mesman Griffith was sitting outside her high school cafeteria, waiting for a ride home after dance team practice, when a janitor approached her with his penis exposed and started masturbating in front of her. She was 14 — and terrified. About a year later, while hanging out with her girlfriends, each one started sharing stories of sexual assault or violence, by a babysitter, an uncle or their mom’s boyfriend. That’s when Griffith realized, “I’m a girl, and because I’m a girl, I’m not safe.” Griffith didn’t share her own story about the janitor with those friends, in part because it seemed less severe than their revelations. But she never told anyone else about it either, because she was embarrassed and felt somehow responsible.” This leads me to the next point of the authors.

Will this book affect the way we perform our ministry? What does it have to do with our lives especially in the way we share the gospel? Yes, we cannot rely on knowledge alone. It is cognitive. Alone it isolates us from the realities of life, alone it makes us un-changed. Theology as the book has highlighted needs to be relevant, needs to dialogue with experience, with the realities of life. This is how we can be true servants of the Church, in spirit and in truth, in worship and love. 24176930_10155991967717940_2020262301036849862_n

The Church and her leaders can no longer be quiet on this issue. If there was silence — combined with the teachings and systems that contribute to a culture in which sexual violence against women is rampant — this might just lead the church to be complicit, say theologians and those who work with victims. “Still, the church could be part of the solution,” advocates for victims of sexual violence say. But it will need to speak up.

One of the things so provoking in the book is its title – Pinay Magnificat: Living Out Our Theology. The lingering question in the Philippines is always that popular religious practices model a different Mary. It depicts a woman who may just be as accepting to whatever happens to her. And this certainly may be un-helpful for victims of sexual violence, Julia Feder, a systematic theologian asserts. “We talk about Mary with this ‘open yes,’ ” she said, “but we talk very little about all the no’s she’s expressing in the Magnificat.” This is precisely the reason why the mention of Magnificat in the title is very catching. Known as the Canticle of Mary, or Mary’s hymn of praise to the Lord, the song explicitly announces God’s love for the poor but denounces what does not lead to the vision of God’s Kindom – God has brought rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble; God has filled the hungry with good things but the rich God sends away empty. This shows God’s defense for the poor. As God’s family we are to denounce injustices in our homes, workplaces, and society in order to give meaning to the very life of the poor. Pinay Magnificat: Living Out Our Theology – what an appropriate choice of words for a book title!

This book is an excellent resource for students, educators, religious, social workers, priests, bishops (too!) and all those involved in the fight against violence. It gives facts, answers questions gives confirmation, clears doubts, challenges readers to design proposals, to speak out, to be prophets of our time, and assist our victims to make intervention measures. Buy one! And read it! ##


Fr. Euginius L. Canete MJ





Ecumenical Women’s Forum (EWF) Statement on Check Point Harassment In Sultan Kudarat ( Two days after Martial Law was Declared)

check point marines Sultan KudaratWe are Lumad, Moro, and Christian women who gathered together in Mindanao for a workshop on “Leadership Development and Capacity Building for Gender and Ecological Justice” held on  May 21-27, 2017. We affirm that ecological justice is an imperative of our faith–with its bias for the poor and the oppressed—and also central to our national consciousness and major agenda of women’s emancipation.

We believe that we can only know the reality and truth about the deleterious effects on women of  environmental destruction, poverty and lack of social services by immersing ourselves in their communities. It is by integrating with them in their ancestral lands and listening to their stories of pain as well as resistance that  realities will be unfolded to us. Hence, we visited Moro and Lumad communities in  Brgy. Kidayan, a Moro community, and Sitio Kidupong, Brgy Dumulol where  Dulangan-Manobos live in Palimbang. Sultan Kudarat.  Here we were humbled by the warm welcome and hospitality of the communities.

During our two-day visit, we breathed in with them the wind of poverty–lack of water, proper sanitation, basic health services and educational facilities.  Farmers, both women and men, have been working hard for daily survival, but remain saddled with heavy debts. Worse, their ancestral domain is threatened by ecological degradation and intensifying capitalist plunder and  land grabbing.

In the midst of suffering and difficulties, the people are not without hope. They persistently and courageously defend their ancestral land and demand from government basic social services they are entitled to. Women are rising up and standing up for justice. Inspired by their courage and determination, we have resolved to carry with us the life-changing experiences with the Lumad and Moro communities, and share with others their stories of suffering,  struggle and hope

However, on our way back to the city, two days after Martial Law was declared in Mindanao, we were accosted by soldiers of the 6th Marine  Company Marine Battalion Landing Team 6  Check Point. Our truck was stopped and we were held for more than one hour and thirty  minutes. Our representatives were interrogated, asked to produce identification cardscheckpoint and questioned about our permit to travel. An officer, who did not want to give his name, blurted out, “Who are you? Don’t you know that the communities you visited are dangerous areas which we would not even dare go to go!” . They also asked why our group did not ask permission from them when they could have accompanied us and given protection. Another officer asked if Suara Bangsamoro woman leader Ipang and a Kidapawan woman were with us. Our representatives were forbidden to take down notes during the questioning.

While our representatives were being questioned, a marine man took pictures of our group who were left waiting in the truck. We were instructed to write down our names on the backside of the stationery of the Philippine Coconut Authority.

Particularly irksome were the, sexist remarks about whether there are single (virgin) women among us since there are many unmarried soldiers in the camp. We consider these sexual innuendos as a form of harassment. We were reminded of many incidents of sexual harassment inflicted on women under military custody.

We know and feel   strongly that our rights were violated. Being held and prevented to travel for too long a time and for no valid reason is a form of military harassment. The requirement for permission to travel is an infringement of our constitutional right. Article 3 Section 6 of the Constitution provides that the right to travel ”shall not be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety or public health as may be provided by law.”

This incident took place two days after Martial Law in Mindanao was declared. We believe that our civil and political rights must be upheld. The militaristic approach can only result in human rights violations and the rule of might rather than right.

We call on women of different persuasion to strengthen and deepen  our resolve to resist in the pursuit of ecological justice, people’s welfare and rights.

We call on all women to work in solidarity with Lumad and Moro women who are rising up to defend their ancestral domain, and to put an end to centuries of patriarchy and sexism in all aspects.

We demand the immediate lifting of Martial Law which will only engender more military abuses, violate constitutional  and human rights, and  aggravate violence against women.##


Sponsored by:

Ecumenical Women’s Forum (EWF)

National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)


Participating Organizations:


Association  of Women in Theology (AWIT)

Church Women United-Philippines  (CWU)

Ecumenical Women’s Forum (EWF)

Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace Mindanao)

Institute of Women’s Studies (IWS )

Kapatirang Simbahan Para sa Bayan  Women’s Collective (KASIMBAYAN)

National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)

Sandugo ( alliance of national minorities in the Philippines)

Suara Bangsamoro


May 26 2017

Sarangani, General Santos City, Mindanao


Liturgical Guide for Women’s Day

women phils

The Gathering


Sound of Chime or Gong                                            


Entrance of Symbols                                                                                                 (Candle, Bible, Water, Flowers)                                                                                            

Call to Gather


In vibrant celebration

Women dance

Waters dance


Community in sisterhood

Solidarity in liberation

Water is Life

Women birth Life

Let us celebrate Life

God’s gift of liberation!- Ranjini Rebere



Leader: We come together today to be with each other in the presence of Bathala, our   God, Creative Power and Love.

All: It is a gift to be alive, it is a joy to be together by God’s grace.

Leader: We breathe together and struggle together…

All: Compassionate Power, breathe on us, energize and empower us today.

Leader: We cry, we complain, we moan, we dream, we act, and we cling to hope.

All: God of hope, we embrace your promise of protection and abundant life even as we live in the midst of struggle and pain. Amen. (- Rev. Dr. Elizabeth S. Tapia)


OPENING SONG                                 “All Across the Nation”

(Melodie and Text: aus Afrika-African Women’s Day Song)

All across the nation, all around the world

Women are longing to be free

No longer in the shadows, forced to stay behind

But side by side in true equality


So sing a song for women everywhere

Let it ring around and never, never cease

So sing a song for women everywhere

Equality, development and peace.

Women can’t be silent, when all around the world

People hurt and hungry, children cry

We will sing for justice and development

And hold the rights of all the people high [refrain]

Women are now working to build a better world

Where the love of peace can rest on every shore

Where men lay down their weapons and learn to love and share

And people work to bring an end to war [refrain]



Old Testament                                    Psalm 30: 11

New Testament                                  Luke 1:46-55

BIBLICO-THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION                                                            


AFFIRMATION OF FAITH            (In Unison)


                We are the children of Eve, and  SHE-Life  is our  Mother.

We cast away the patriarchal mould that sin started from her.

We are the sisters and daughters of  Miriam

who led in the victory song and dance for the people.

We are sisters and daughters of Deborah

who rose and fought so that her people will not go hungry.

We are the sisters and daughters of Mary

Who sang the Magnificat and shared a vision of liberation.

We are the sisters and daughters of Mary of Magdala

Who witnessed the risen Christ, and was sent out to proclaim the resurrection.

We are Daughters of Resistance, Redemption and Liberation!

Our prophetic VOICE and ACTION matters!





THE WOMEN’S SITUATION IN THE PHILIPPINES                                                                                                                                              



                                                    One Billion Rising Dance




SONG OF COMMITMENT       “Bread and Roses”


As we go marching, marching
In the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens
A thousand mill lofts gray

Are touched with all the radiance
That a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing
Bread & roses, bread & roses

As we go marching, marching
We battle too for men
For they are women’s children
And we mother them again

Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread but give us roses

As we go marching, marching
We bring the greater days
For the rising of the women
Means the rising of the race

No more the drudge and idler
Ten that toil where one reposes
But the sharing of life’s glories
Bread & roses, bread & roses



                God of Compassion and Justice, empower us, as we collectively rise from the system, structures and norms that dehumanize and oppress peoples. Enable us to disrupt the evilness of patriarchy, exploitation, oppression and injustice. Teach us to always be in solidarity with women who suffer from unemployment, landlessness, lack of social and basic services, environmental plunder, militarization, commodification of their labor and bodies, and gender-based violence.




May God bless you with insight to recognize violence in all its forms, and courage to name it, speaking out for justice. May the Lord Jesus bless with you with compassion for the vulnerable, and grace to stand with them. May the Holy Spirit bless you with power to breathe peace and work for justice, and transform the world.





                Sent by the Lord Am I, my hands are ready now

To make the earth a place in which the kin-dom comes  (Repeat)

The angels cannot change, a world of hurt and pain

Into a world of love, of justice and of peace.

The task is ours to do, to set it really free;

O help us to obey, help us to do your will.##



Prepared by Arceli Bile, NCCP Women’s Desk

 Photo grab from




Women’s Day and Beyond * Ecumenical Women’s Forum Statement on IWD March 8

17202855_1267683386602511_4187207383945542455_nHope is always the teacher
with the toughest homework.

Our assignment: to grasp
what has never been breathed in our stolen
on the hill:

Without justice, we will never
be healed.

– Alice Walker


March 8 will never be an ordinary day for women.  It will never be an ordinary day in our history. Because this day took shape when the oppressed and the working-class women subverted the ordinariness of exploitation and patriarchy, it will be celebrated through generations for the years of struggle and the rising up of women.  We will dedicate ourselves again to follow in the pathways that their struggles have opened and to rise yet further in the quest for justice and peace.

We celebrate the gift of RESISTANCE endowed upon people whose lives have been subjected to the daily woes of violence and injustice.  Silence and surrender could be an option that would make the tyrants comfortable; but, the people use their gift of RESISTANCE to disrupt the normalcy of oppression. We honor women, past and present, who dare to put forward the interest of those victimized by the power that is founded in inequality and discrimination.  Today, as women of faith, we resist forced migration, labor export policies, death penalty and lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility, and all laws that target the poor, marginalized, and already vulnerable. We resist the supposed ownership and control of vast tracks of land by a few, while the many remain landless.  We resist the harassment and threats to national minorities as they defend their ancestral lands.  We resist the inadequate social services that limit access to housing, education, healthcare, utilities, and even nutrition to the poor majority.

We celebrate REDEMPTION.  As women, we believe in the redeeming love of God as manifested in the restoration of relationships of God with people, of people as community, and of the whole ecosystems and natural world.  Justice and justice alone is a pre-requisite for such redemption and restoration.  We condemn any policies, operations, and programs that aim to unjustly imprison, torture and kill people as convenient way to solve the problem of drug addiction. As women, we lament the overwhelming upsurge of killings, especially of the poor, in name of a war against drugs. We weep with mothers and fathers whose children were cut down and wantonly eliminated by these forces. We grieve for children whose parents were callously killed, rendering them extremely vulnerable with almost no access to the social justice they need and deserve. RESTORATION through social justice is surely a better solution than brazenly executing, eliminating, liquidating, neutralizing… murdering the poor.

We look forward to the final day of LIBERATION, when all women, men, children and youth are free from all shackles of class and national oppression, modern-day slavery, corruption, unjust global trade, and gender-based violence.  Thus, we strive to be a part of ushering in the day when we shall live in PEACE based on JUSTICE, living out the vision of Mary (Luke 1:50-53):

His mercy extends to those who fear him,

    from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;

    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones

    but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things

    but has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

    remembering to be merciful

to Abraham and his descendants forever,

    just as he promised our ancestors.”


March 8,2017



Our Love Compels Us To Celebrate the Spirit of Resistance, Redemption and Liberation*IWD Ecumenical Women’s Forum (EWF) Resource Materials

Tissot_RizpahOur Context

This year’s commemoration of the International Women’s Day takes place in the context of women’s prophetic stance in resisting all that robs life of human dignity.

In a study by the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), it showed that in Lanao del Sur, seven out of 10 people are poor while in Maguindanao, Northern Samar, Saranggani, Sulu, Bukidnon, Zamboanga del Norte – half of the population is considered poor. Among women, •One out of four Filipino women is considered poor”. In labor workforce, 57% of women account for those who are salary and wage earners, 27% are self employed without any paid employee, 14% are employed family workers and 2% are employer in own family operated farm or business. 1,018 million women are into manufacturing mostly in electronics and garments. Among OFW’s there are 7.43 million OFWs deployed around the world. Six out of 10 are women.

The case of Jennifer Aresgado Dalquez who went to the United Arab Emirates in 2011 clearly describes the situation of women today. Forced by poverty to work abroad, she left her family and worked in UAE where her first employer attempted to rape her. After this ordeal, a friend offered her another work.

Despite the danger she faced, she took another chance by working as a cashier, then as an assistant to a doctor. While working as an assistant, which required her to work for just three days a week, she took side jobs by offering cleaning services. An Emirati police contacted her to clean his house. And it was there where she experienced another attempted rape at knifepoint. Knowing skills on self-defense, she fought back and accidentally stabbed her assailant. She was arrested in December 2012 and was eventually meted out the death penalty. Through the help of Migrante, Jennifer’s case was brought to proper authorities and to the public’s attention.

Filipino women continue to live and die in poverty. Forced by such a circumstance, many have fallen prey to the evils of exploitation and abuse of their employers. Peasant women continue to live on the impacts of landlessness, land conversion, land grabbing and large and extractive mining. Nine out of 10 peasant families are landless.

As for basic and social services, nothing has changed in the poorly delivered social services for the people, especially women. With the looming privatization of public hospitals, more poor women are threatened with decreased health services.

From January 2005 to October 2016 there were 153, 412 cases of violation of RA9262 or Anti-Violence against women and their children Act. This would translate to 1 case of violence every 14 minutes and 36 seconds.

Human right violations continue to haunt women and their kith and kin. Heightened militarization persist in far-flung rural poor communities. Alternative educational systems that are set up for indigenous children are demonized and their leaders killed, harassed or threatened. Schools are burnt down by military men, and children and their families are displaced. In fact, many of our indigenous peoples are either displaced, killed, harassed or vilified.

We Resist!
Like Rizpah of old, we smell the stench of death.
Like Rizpah of old, we dare to take risk.
Like Rizpah of old, we will stand burned in the scorching heat f the sun
Like Rizpah of old, we will protect our young from further violence and death.

“Like millions of women through the centuries, Rizpah, caught up in the holocaust of national strife and war, found herself bereft of husband and children and was left to fight a battle against loneliness and poverty. The background of Rizpah’s empty heart and home is plainly stated. Saul, who became conspicuous for his pride and self-will, broke an oath that had been made with the Gibeonites by Joshua. Although the idolatrous Gibeonites had deceived Joshua, yet the treaty with them had been made, and an oath not to destroy them by the sword was sealed in the Lord’s name. But when Saul came to power he set about the obliteration of Israel’s enemies, and treating the Gibeonites as a heathen settlement in a holy land, endeavored to annihilate them. As soon as Saul met his death on Mount Gilboa, the Gibeonites sought for redress for the profanation of the oath given by Joshua.
A severe famine lasting for three years overtook the land of Israel, and David was divinely informed that the famine was in consequence of Saul’s slaughter of the oath-protected Gibeonites. They demanded by way of compensation that the seven sons of Saul should be hung up “before the Lord” in expiation for what had been done there. It thus came about that innocent children had to bear heavy punishment for the sin of their father. The five sons of Saul by Merab, who were cared for by Michal after her sister’s death, and Saul’s two sons by Rizpah were taken and hanged upon a hilltop for all to see. They were cruelly slaughtered. . . . . ”

A victim of state violence, Rizpah’s sons were slaughtered and made to rot in the midst of the sun and hungry vultures as a way of further humiliating and degrading Saul despite being killed in the battle against David. To further hurt Saul’s family, his enemies asked that his sons be handed to them so that they may kill him violently as a revenge to Saul. Giving in to the demand, David, gave two of Saul’s sons with Rizpah and five others with Merab. After their death, the sons of Saul were never buried but were instead left to rot in the sun where vultures can feast over them.

Rizpah’s act was a refusal to the further desecration of her son’s bodies (2 Samuel 21:8-14). She put on a sackcloth and guarded what remains of her sons from harshness of the sun’s heat, the coldness of rain and the threat of vultures awaiting.

Rizpah’s act was an act of resistance. She never wavered on the thought that staying with her son will protect them from further harm and from experiencing death time and time again. She risked her own life by identifying herself as the mothers of her son. Saul’s enemies could have killed her, too!

Rizpah’s act was an act against the state! Challenging David and his cohorts of what wrong use of power can make monsters out of their “personas.”.How power has made them ruthless and heartless leaders of the land. How power victimized mothers and daughters and sisters of those whom they chose to slaughter.

Rizpah’s act was a statement of courage and bravery. Even if she faced the risk of being arrested and killed, she stood by the side of her sons. Mothers will always choose to stay beside their children in plenty and in want, in danger and in safety. Despite being killed, Rizpah acknowledged that they can still be further harmed and her presence is the only way by which she can ensure that they are guarded. She did not care whether people came and arrested her. She did not care whether she would be harassed or intimidated. All the time, she stood her ground and never left her beloved children.

Rizpah’s act revealed a morally bankrupt leadership during her time. David could have saved the lives of Saul’s children despite the latter being his enemy. He could have spared the lives of innocent children who have nothing to do with their father’s shortcomings. But nay, David allowed these violations to happen under his own watch. Not a sign of compassion. Not a glimpse of care and concern.

In our Resistance is Redemption and Liberation

Rizpah of old, you are breathing and alive
you are angered by each act of violation and oppression
Rizpah of old, you are throbbing and pulsating
you are marching with women in their fight against exploitation
Rizpah of old, you are humming and shouting
you are with us in our marches singing with our songs of protests
Rizpah of old, you’re fist are clenched and up
you are with us in our journey towards liberation.

Perhaps, Rizpah, was not able to save her children from death. But in standing her ground and staying with her children – she made a statement that violence and death of innocents have their limits. And that it wouldn’t be allowed time and time again. Time will come that people will stand up individually and most importantly collectively – to assert their rights and fight for the rights of those who have been maimed and silenced by a wicked and evil system or structure.

This International Women’s Day Commemoration bears witness to the ever militant, ever alive and collective struggle of the women’s movement in the Philippines to a prophetic engagement with the powers that be and with structures that bring destruction to the life that the Great Spirit has willed for all of us.

In the Spirit of Rizpah, Nanay Celia Veloso and Nanay Alicia Dalquez who are now speaking publicly about the life of their children Mary Jane and Jennifer, who respectively are now in Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates facing death penalty. Mary Jane Veloso and Jennifer Dalquez are both overseas Filipino workers who were imprisoned. Mary Jane, was imprisoned for being a victim of illegal drug trade and Jennifer, for accidentally stabbing an Emirati police who hired her for cleaning services and attempted to rape her.

In the Spirit of Rizpah, mothers of victims of the current government’s war on drugs are now speaking and telling their stories of victimization and violence.

In the Spirit of Rizpah, peace advocates continue to call for the resumption and continuation of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front.
In the Spirit of Rizpah, women are denouncing the ill and grave effects of neoliberal economic globalization that continues to kill our women workers, peasant women, indigenous women, youth and children.

In the Spirit of Rizpah, women are denouncing extra-judicial killings and other political killings committed against those who dissent and who dare speak out against government policies and programs that are detrimental to people.

In the Spirit of Rizpah, women are in strong opposition against the passage of the Death Penalty Bill and the Lowering the Age of Criminal Responsibility of Children!

In the Spirit of Rizpah, we demand for Delivery of Basic and Social Services.

In the Spirit of Rizpah, we will not keep quiet. We will stand on our grounds. We will demand for Justice and Peace even as we never get tire of working for Justice and Peace.

In the Spirit of Rizpah, we will raise high our voices, we will raise our clench fists, we will sing songs of Hope and we will never tire of marching.

In the Spirit of Rizpah, the ecumenical women will be in solidarity with women and men, youth and children – in our common quest for a world where justice and peace embrace each other, and our lived realities in our time. ##


Ms. Darlene Marquez Caramanzana
Executive Secretary


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Social Justice , NOT Death Penalty*IWD Ecumenical Women’s Forum (EWF) Resource Materials

John-Swanson_Psalm-85_sWould death penalty deter crimes or is it intended specifically as a path to retribution? Death penalty is commonly understood as a legal execution of a punishment for a crime committed. This is in contrast to extra-judicial killing which is the killing/execution/liquidation of a person perpetrated by government authorities without the sanctions of legal process or judicial proceedings. In the past months the newspapers have been dripping with bloody accounts of the numbers and details of people extrajudicially killed in the name of a war against illegal drugs. EJKs have become a convenient means to penalize suspects. Likewise, the subject of Death Penalty is being opened up for revival. Senator Manny Paquiao even went as far as making a joke that death by hanging is easy, since all you have to do is kick the chair.

Death Penalty Does not Deter Crime

A closer look is warranted to consider if Death Penalty should/must be a primary concern in the immediate agenda of governance. Why can’t the government choose to find ways how to NOURISH LIFE, rather than explore how DEATH PENALTY can easily be restored to a supposed end of deterring crime or exacting retribution for a judged crime.

In a study of Amnesty International, the death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to it. Most of those penalized by death penalty are victims of unfair legal systems. Many death sentences are issued after so-called‘confessions’ have been obtained through torture; these ‘confessions’ are unreliable as it has been shown that victims of torture are compelled by the torture to say whatever they must to make it stop. Even more, discrimination often influences court decisions. People are much more likely to be sentenced to death if they are poor or belong to a racial, ethnic or religious minority. This is further compounded by the reality that the poor and marginalized groups have less access to the legal resources needed to defend themselves. It is also used as a political tool to punish political opponents. In the Philippines, we have more than 500 political prisoners who are facing trumped-up charges; their situation would be all the more difficult if they were also facing a possible Death Penalty sentence.

Fill-up the Thirst for Social Justice

During the administration of Pres. Fidel V. Ramos, the National Unification Commission identified the various root causes of the armed conflict: namely,
•massive and abject poverty;
•iniquitous distribution of wealth and control over the base of resources needed for livelihood;
•injustice; and,
•poor governance.

Addressing these identified issues would bring substantial change and a better quality of life for the people. I believe that if these issues are addressed, there would be less crime and people would have increased access to due process. Thus, it makes more sense to deter crime by providing social and basic services, pursuing peace based on justice, and eliminating corruption in governance.

The government should exert all efforts to provide the best social and basic services to the people. By ensuring that the education system is progressive, liberating, service-oriented, pro-people and nationalist, the poor could have access to good and quality education. This should not be seen as a privilege, but instead a basic right. A mandate of free education could be accompanied with an orientation that the youth will use the knowledge, skills and abilities they acquired to serve the people. Education could even be mandatory for the youth if it we accessible to all.

Death Penalty in the context of massive poverty and injustice only increases the victimization of the poor, while the rich continue to wield the chance and advantage to save themselves because of their privileges and wealth.

How can we deter crime? Ensure quality life for all. And how do we provide Justice to the victims of heinous crimes? Restorative justice saves lives from guilt and hate and vengeance and retribution.
How About Treason?

How about acts of treason? Clearly, since colonial times, the revolutionaries waged war against their colonizers. The revolutionaries were considered bandits and insurgents by the colonial powers and were punished with judicial killings (death penalty). History and nationalism have taught us they were martyrs and heroes, but these powers-that-be manufactured crimes and evidences that brought them to capital punishment. History and nationalism have taught us who are the real traitors–it is those who committed their allegiance to colonial masters that betrayed the Filipino people. Is this not an heinous crime?
Unfortunately, those who bow down to colonial powers have everything in life except conscience and sense of justice. They are unlike Macario Sakay who as a poor but a revolutionary man defended our country from colonial atrocity. Yet Sakay was punished by death penalty. Accused of being a bandit under the Brigandage Act of 1902, he was sentenced to death and hanged on Sept. 13, 1907.

In cases of treason by corrupt, wealthy and powerful oligarchs, they should be meted out with a stronger justice system. Their heinous crimes have sunk the lives of the majority into a quagmire of unspeakable misery.

Conditional Shelving of Death Penalty

The best time to open up a debate on capital punishment is when, and only when, justice rules, equal rights and opportunities are given to all, resources and wealth are justly distributed to all people, and the government power find its basis in justice, truth and compassion. Until the big landlords and big business no longer pay for the position of their politicians to make laws in their favour, the discourse on Death Penalty should be shelved. After all, the primary responsibility of the State is to ensure the Fullness of Life for the citizenry and it is definitely not to propagate penalization through murder. ##




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