[Statement] Stop Aerial Strikes in Marawi City, Revoke Martial Law in Mindanao!

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June 14, 2017

The use of airstrikes in populated and developed areas endangers the lives of civilians – especially women and children. Innocent lives and livelihoods are put at risk. Right now, tens of thousands of evacuees are seeking refuge in nearby cities, towns, provinces, and homes of relatives to escape from the bombings and continuous clashes between the Islamic State-inspired Maute group militants and government forces in Marawi City.

The supposedly peaceful city has been ravaged, with sections of the city looking much like Aleppo in Syria or the Gaza strip.  Poor men, women, children, PWDs, older persons, and Christians are the most affected. Civilians are trapped or caught in the crossfire and cannot get out of Marawi. While most Marawi residents have evacuated, many are still stranded, trapped, and severely injured because of aerial or ground strikes.

As of June 9, the clash displaced more than 290,000 people, and 39,000+ of them are seeking refuge in evacuation centers. As of this moment, they are facing a vulnerable situation due to lack of basic needs such as halal water and food, and other needs of babies and older persons, and women respectively. There is a scarcity in food, clean water, medicine supplies, hygiene kits, and toilets. Evacuees only share one or two comfort rooms. After three weeks of staying in evacuation centers, many people, especially the children and older people are affected by contagious diseases, such as fever and diarrhea. Food relief and medical assistance cannot easily get through. In this kind of emergency situation, women carry the multiple burden of providing services and unpaid care work where there are none or lacking to ensure food for the family, clean water to consume, children and the sickly are cared for and survival is assured.

In all of these, women – Moro, Lumad and Christians are made more vulnerable. Women are more prone to rape, sexual harassment, and violence due to lack of social protection inside the evacuation centers, and especially so in conflict areas. Thus, we find President Duterte’s remark on rape by soldiers deplorable.  To say that when soldiers commit rape three times, he will take full responsibility is to embolden the armed men, and encourage such violence against women.

We, the Women in Emergencies Network (WENet), share a vision of women-led and gender responsive resilient communities, protecting and defending women and other vulnerable sectors in emergencies, disasters, and conflict situations. We recognize how women play a huge role in times of disasters. Thus, we urge our national government to make all efforts in ensuring the rights of women and children are protected with utmost care, and the specific needs of women, children, PWD, and older persons are provided. We call on the government to stop aerial bombings and provide humanitarian assistance to civilian evacuees and those who are still trapped in the conflict.  We urge government to lift Martial Law in Mindanao for this would further endanger the rights of the people. We must push through the peace process with the active and meaningful participation of women to restore peace in the city. We affirm and further call upon our government leaders to take immediate action to ensure that current and future generations are able to live in peace and dignity.


Women in Emergencies Network (WENet) Members:

Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) – Secretariat

Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK)

Women’s Education, Development, Productivity and Research Organization (WEDPRO)

Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA)

Central Visayas Farmers Development Center, Inc. (FARDEC)

Pagtambayayong Foundation, Inc. (PFI)

Lihok Pilipina Foundation, Inc. (LIHOK)

Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP)

Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (BMFI)


For more information, please contact:

Amparo Miciano-Sykioco

Head of Secretariat, Women in Emergencies Network (WENet)

(02) 372-9041 


Right to Health and Protection from Gender-Based Violence

*This is an excerpt from PKKK’s Rural Women Status Report on CEDAW 2011.

The ratification of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women), which is described as international bill of rights of women,  by the Philippine government implies its commitment to uphold gender equality and women’s empowerment and to eradicate whatever forms of discrimination exist in the Philippine setting, in all sectors and conditions including gender-based violence and health. And yet eradication of discrimination and biases against rural women remains elusive due to the following: (1) absence of national and local government support to provide the health needs of the people particularly the poor; and (2) inequality issues such as and cultural barriers, Catholic Church influence on the enactment of reproductive health bill; (3) and lack of gender-sensitivity and gender-responsiveness of local government units.

Many Filipinos, especially rural women are unable to access and use of health care. Compared with other Asian countries, health expenditure in the Philippines registered 3.8 percent which is way below the five percent standard set by the World Health Organization for developing countries. Our health sector is grossly underfunded by at least 40%, representing the cost of unmet needs of many of our people (ABI 2011).

Continue reading “Right to Health and Protection from Gender-Based Violence”