Women human rights defenders call for removal of rights violator in Malacañang

Women human rights defenders and relatives of human rights violations victims (HRVVs) belonging to Karapatan, Desaparecidos, Hustisya! today kicked off the commemoration of International Women's Month with renewed calls to remove the sitting president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"A first step towards justice is to drive out the thief and human rights violator in Malacanang. Palayasin ang babaeng lapastangan!" said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Secretary General of Karapatan, a leading human rights organization in the Philippines.

To date, 901 Filipinos were summarily executed and 180 have been forcibly disappeared by state security forces under the Arroyo regime. Karapatan lost 33 human rights workers to state violence.

"Mrs. Arroyo, as the Commander-in-Chief had ordered the killings and disappearances of many Filipinos who have stood up against corruption and violence through the Oplan Bantay Laya being carried out by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)," said Enriquez.

Evangeline Hernandez, head convener of Hustisya! said, "Today we, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances by this regime, come together to demand justice for our loved ones. We are women who have been wronged in the worst kind of way - our children, husbands, brothers and sisters taken away, deprived of their rights, deprived of their very lives,"

Hernandez, whose daughter Benjaline was killed by CAFGU members on April 5, 2002 said, "We are women crying out for justice. We are women crying out for truth. We are women crying out for human rights at a time when justice, truth and human rights have been deprived our entire people."

In a statement distributed to passers-by near the Gabriela Silang Monument in Makati, the women human rights defenders said: "Perhaps the greatest tragedy for us is that all these are happening under the leadership of a woman president - Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It really pains us that a woman has become the epitome of evil, corruption and tyranny in our motherland.

"Indeed, we cannot fathom how a woman can tolerate, much more take part, in the web of lies, cover-ups and systematic stealing that has become the hallmark of the Arroyo administration. From the Hello Garci tapes, the IMPSA deal, the fertilizer fund scam, the PIATCO scam, and now the NBN-ZTE deal all we have witnessed is her and her officials' fingerprints.

"She has shamed us and shamed the nation. It is for this reason that we are calling on you - our brother and sister - to join us in working for the removal of that evil woman from Malacañang as a first step towards justice. Let us unite with our people for the sake of truth, justice and public accountability.

"Let us work together for a future where human rights of women and men are respected and protected."###