On Independence Day, various groups honor Filipino comfort women  | Inquirer News

On Independence Day, various groups honor Filipino comfort women 

/ 02:50 PM June 12, 2018

To honor and remember the Filipino women abused by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War, various groups who campaigned for the reinstallation of the ‘Comfort Woman’ statue along Roxas Boulevard held a ceremony for the victims on Tuesday, Independence Day.

“We remember innumerable Filipino women who fell victims to the atrocities of the Japanese Imperial Army: the Filipino ‘Comfort Women’ whose struggles, almost 30 years since they came out publicly, are being relegated to the dustbins of our history,” Intergroup coalition #Flowers4Lolas said in a statement.

The coalition includes comfort women organization Lila Pilipina, pro-women party-list group Gabriela, Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran, and other groups like MEMORARE Manila 1945, Whachi Veterans Descendant Association, Bataan Historical Legacy, WomanHealth Pilipinas, Philippine World War II Memories Foundation, University of the Philippines LIKAS, Center Law, Knights of Rizal, among others.


According to the groups, #Flowers4Lolas started as a campaign asking for the return of the “Comfort Woman” statue at Roxas Boulevard corner Quirino Avenue.


READ: Removal of ‘comfort woman’ statue draws protest

“On June 12, we gathered at the site where the ‘Comfort Woman’ once stood.  We reiterated our calls for the reinstallation of the statue and for the Philippine government to uphold the truth in our history,” #Flowers4Lola said, claiming that the removal was a result of the Japanese government’s request to the current administration, in exchange for foreign aid and investments.

According to previous reports, the Japanese foreign ministry had earlier objected to the erection of the said statue.  Four months later, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) removed the bronze statue to make way for a flood control project.

For Kaisa co-founder Teresita Ang See, every single bit of the history, whether good or bad, should be not be brushed aside and taken for granted.

“It is a part of our history that we should not forget.  Today, in commemoration of the Independence Day, we want to show that we should not forget our history,” See said in an ambush interview on Tuesday.

“The statue memorializes a tragic part of history suffered by Filipino comfort women under the Japanese occupation during World War II, and gives tribute to their courage and resilience through the years,” #Flowers4Lola added.


Raising awareness

According to See, the removal of the statue has helped their cause in a way since it has drawn wide support for the cause of Lila Pilipina and #Flowers4Lola.

“We thank them for removing the statue, our movement has spread, #Flowers4Lola has gained a lot of supporters.  We would pursue the advancement of our cause, we would visit schools one by one, and hold forums in different provinces,” See said.

The Chinese-Filipino leader also lamented the perceived preference of the government, noting that a shrine for Japanese pilots and soldiers in Pampanga stands up to this day.

“There is a shrine for Kamikaze soldiers in Mabalacat, Pampanga, but a single square meter [of] land  for a statue for comfort women is not permitted,” See exclaimed.

“But hectares of land were given to the Japanese to remember their dead soldiers — imagine, Kamikaze soldiers who killed children, the elderly and women during wartime, we allowed a shrine for them,” she added.

For Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas, there is no option but to reinstall the statue, which should serve as a symbol for the plight of Lila Pilipina.

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“We are calling for the reinstallation of the Comfort Woman monument because our comfort women are still seeking justice,” Brosas said. /ee


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