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Statement to the Launching of the Women’s Campaign: Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves!

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by Elisa Tita Lubi
Founding Vice-Chair, Gabriela Women’s Party
Program & Management Committee and Regional Council Member, APWLD (Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development)
Former International Relations Officer, GABRIELA
National Council Member, BAYAN

Greetings to all women and men defending women’s and peoples’ rights, especially those who are here today in the launching of the campaign to Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves!

The first Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves! Campaign was run by the GABRIELA Commission on Women’s Human Rights in 1989. Its goal was the release of Luisa Posa, an activist who fought against the Marcos dictatorship, and her young daughter, Maywan. They were both detained in an Iloilo City jail, with Maywan as the youngest political prisoner in the whole country.

The campaign’s call Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves! was adopted from a women’s campaign in San Francisco, California. Our campaign got wide international support with thousands of postcards and letters mailed from different parts of the world demanding freedom for the mother and daughter. Luisa and Maywan were subsequently released from detention. Luisa is now with Bayan-Panay while Maywan is a law student.

Nelia Sancho and I headed that first campaign which was launched a few months after I was released from the Manila City Jail, where I spent most of the months of my more than half-a-year’s detention for charges of alleged subversion. I was arrested without a warrant, tortured and jailed without bail. While in prison, my lawyer filed a motion for reconsideration that raised questions about the sufficiency of evidence supporting the charge against me. The case was reverted back to the Fiscal’s or Prosecutor’s Office for reinvestigation. GABRIELA at that time also ran a campaign for my release which created enough pressure on the government and the military to let a legitimate legal process prosper. The case was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Today GABRIELA launches another campaign to Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves! Ironically, I am now a beneficiary of the campaign along with other women being subjected to political repression by the Hitlerine, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Liza Maza, Philippine legislator, President of the Gabriela Women’s Party and GABRIELA Vice-Chair, continues to defy the Philippine National Police’s attempts at arresting her and the other four party-list representatives who are now under protective custody of the House of Representatives. Liza and I were listed among the 51 being accused of the non-bailable offense of rebellion/insurrection.

GMA’s police and military agencies continue to come up with lists of people being hounded in a situation of undeclared martial law. The names of two young Moro women leaders, Amira Lidasan and Zainab Ampatuan, of the Moro-Christian Peoples’ Alliance appeared in a Mindanao list. Implicated along with many other leaders of democratic people’s organizations and NGOs and by an impostor witness, Jaime Fuentes, in his testimony are:

* Carol Araullo, Chairperson of BAYAN
* Emy de Jesus, Secretary General, GABRIELA
* Rita Baua, International Relations Officer, BAYAN
* Dinky Soliman of the Hyatt 10 and resigned Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)

We are women under constant threat of being arrested without a warrant and slapped with trumped up charges and false accusations by the government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, its military and police agencies and its Department of (In)Justice.

Will we undergo the same experience that I had in 1988 when I was arrested without a warrant and charged with a non-bailable offense so they could keep me in jail, only to be freed months later because there was no sufficient evidence against me in the first place?

We demand that the Raul Gonzalez’s Department of Justice, the PNP and the AFP desist from further persecuting us. All bogus charges and false accusations against us should be dropped; fake witnesses be recalled; and the threat of warrantless arrest on our persons be withdrawn in writing.

Enough with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government’s violation of women’s and people’s rights. Let’s put an end to GMA’s fake presidency, her puppetry to the US and her family and cronies’ graft and corruption. Let’s put a stop to political killings, media repression and affront to our civil liberties. The new dictator has to go. Oust Gloria!