Women’s group hits gov’t for barring ex-lawmaker from leaving PH
A women’s group on Friday criticized the government for barring former congresswoman Liza Maza from leaving the Philippines last July 9 to attend an international organization’s hearing in the United States on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).
The Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) said Maza being prohibited from leaving the country, under the alleged orders of the US Customs and Border Protection Agency, was “harassment and intimidation.”
CWR’s research coordinator Cham Perez said that while the Philippines rates high in the Global Gender Index of the World Economic Forum, there are still cases of women activists like Maza whose human rights are being violated.
“Ironically, one of the factors in the gender gap index is political participation and yet, a woman activist is regarded as a security threat; a patriotic woman is considered as subversive,” Perez said.
Maza, a former Gabriela Women’s Party representative, was prevented from boarding a Korean Airlines flight after the US Customs and Border Protection Agency allegedly sent an e-mail to the airline.
The former lawmaker was supposed testify before the International People’s Tribunal in the US, against the Edca and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Because of the what happened,she was not able to attend tribunal scheduled July 16 to 18.
Maza, earlier quoted by the Inquirer, said, “They’re trying to prevent me from exposing the public outcry against the EDCA and VFA. This incident [will have] a chilling effect on activists for peace, and on people asserting their right to speak up against unfair agreements and exploitation by foreign powers.”
Since she was barred from leaving the country, she was not able to attend tribunal scheduled to be started from 16 to 18 of July.
According to CWR, Maza’s case is not an isolated one. Aside from harassment and intimidation, many women activists are imprisoned or even tortured because of their political stance against government injustice and foreign intervention.
“Despite their delicate conditions, the government hardly lift a hand to release them for humanitarian reasons. Instead, they are charged with fabricated criminal offenses such as murder, kidnapping, and illegal possession of firearms and explosives. In the Philippines, being political is criminal,” said Perez, referring to political prisoners like Sharon Cabusao, Andrea Rosal, Miradel Torres, and Moreta Alegre.
Perez said there are 48 women political prisoners in the country and many are sick while some are nursing mothers that need to be released for humanitarian reason. Mikthona Chab, INQUIRER.net trainee/KS
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