Statement of Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA) on International Working Women’s Day

March 8, 2024

On the second year of the fascist Marcos Jr regime, the toiling women continue to participate in the armed and unarmed forms of struggle to advance the people’s national democratic revolution!

The intense oppression and exploitation of women in a semicolonial and semifeudal society strengthen and expand the membership of revolutionary mass organizations such the Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (Patriotic Movement of New Women-MAKIBAKA).

Majority of women belong to the poorest strata of society, workers, farmers, indigenous and urban poor. Still to recover from the widespread loss of jobs, falling incomes, and inflated prices of goods and utilities caused by the pandemic, the Marcos Jr. regime intensifies women’s impoverishment through the continued implementation of neoliberal agreements and policies.

Marcos Jr.’s subservience to his US imperialist master is blatant in the form of US-directed changes to the country’s economic policies. In his current attempt to amend the 1987 Constitution via Charter Change, Marcos Jr. further opens the country’s economy to foreign investments in favor of imperialist profiteering.

Decades of neoliberal policies implemented in the Philippines have not resulted in any material development for the people and for the economy. Instead, trade deficits persist and the country’s economy is constantly dependent on remittances from overseas workers and from constant foreign borrowing. In the past two years alone, the administration has incurred Php1.82 trillion debt. In 2023, debt levels have reached a total of Php14.62 trillion. Women and the rest of the masses will surely bear the burden of paying these debts for generations to come.

Because the country’s economy is tied to the global capitalist system, the crisis of imperialism has a direct impact on the jobs and livelihood of the Filipino people. As the crisis intensifies, so does the capitalist exploitation of the masses. The three biggest apparel manufacturers that comprise 60% of the country’s total garment exports implemented mass layoffs between 2019-2024 wherein an estimated 80,000 women workers lost their jobs. This was after the capitalists issued a pull-out order from the Philippines and transfer production to other countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia where labor is much cheaper.

The severe exploitation of the working-class Filipina continues due to contractualization, various forms of labor flexibilization, low wages, dangerous working conditions, discrimination, and violence. The increasing number of unemployed workers contributes to the creation of a large reserve army of labor that further depresses wages and perpetuates contractualization. The current minimum wage remains grossly insufficient and unlivable especially in the provinces. Minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR) is only Php610 (approximately 10USD) while it is only Php316 (approximately 6USD) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

In rural areas, women remain among the most disadvantaged groups among fisherfolk, farmers and indigenous peoples. For decades, rural women have been suffering from severe and consistent economic losses and hunger due to widespread landlessness and the lack of state support for local agricultural production.

The reactionary state has failed in all of its attempts to implement agrarian reform. Since the implementation of Masagana ‘99 in 1972 by Marcos Sr., the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in 1988 by Cory Aquino, and the subsequent CARP Extension with Reforms by Arroyo in 2009, the reactionary state has only protected the landlords and their haciendas that should have been distributed to the farmers a long time ago. In 2021, there are still 540,000 hectares of distributable land under CARP that have not yet been distributed.

Widespread neoliberal economic reforms are causing widespread joblessness among farmers and farmworkers. Due to the impacts of liberalization, highly subsidized foreign agricultural products are flooding the country resulting in losses for small-scale producers. They are instead forced to sell their products at cheaper prices, despite the high market prices of rice and other basic food commodities.

The emergence of revolutionary women’s organizations in the countryside is caused by the starvation of farmers who are the producers of the people’s food. In the absence of agricultural support from the state, coupled with state-sponsored violence, the reactionary government itself is pushing rural women to participate in armed struggle.

Because the feudal-patriarchal society ties women to housework as the primary caregiver of the family, women are some of the victims first affected by sky-high commodity prices and unlivable wages. Women who demand the right to a living wage and a safe workplace are intimidated, fired, arrested, and raped. In the provinces, workers are no longer allowed to work in nearby factories simply because they are unionized or are members of a worker’s association.

In this situation, women’s participation in social and national liberation to free themselves continue. The severe economic and political crises are pushing them to organize fellow women, participate and lead mass struggles such as in pickets, land occupations and people’s strikes, and take the revolutionary path of armed struggle.

Together with all who are oppressed and exploited, it is necessary for the Filipina women to destroy imperialism, bureaucratic capitalism, and feudalism so that they can all be free.

Highest tribute to all the revolutionary women martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the victory of the people’s war!

Long live MAKIBAKA!

Long live the national democratic revolution!

Long live the unity of women and people of the world against imperialism!