Arroyo government picks on three women activists

Thanks to the henchmen of Mrs. Arroyo themselves, the world got yet another confirmation of the worsening political repression of the Philippines.

As if the unresolved political killings and abductions were not enough, the Arroyo government scooped more dirt and ate all of them by way of a hold departure order against Prof. Analissa Enrile, chair of Gabriela Network USA. Enrile was here in Manila for an international women’s conference that touched, among others, on the outrageous transgressions of Mrs. Arroyo against Filipinos regardless of gender, be it on social, economic, cultural or political rights.

According to Gabnet, “A professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, Dr. Enrile was returning to the U.S. after chaperoning a delegation of USC Masters students attending the conference and visiting with local Philippine non-profit organizations. Officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport advised Dr. Enrile that she must report to the Philippine Bureau of Immigration. She was informed that she had been placed on the Philippine government’s watchlist on July 25, 2007, two days after Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address.”

Along the excruciating way of being told that she cannot leave the Philippines to rejoin her family in the US, it as discovered that two other Gabnet USA leaders were also issued hold departure orders.

Thus the Gabnet 3, the new poster girls of the Arroyo regime’s fascism, was born.

Joining Enrile in the triumvirate is Judith Mirkinson, a reliable mainstay of the US-Philippine solidarity movement. She has been here for several times, lending her time and voice to victims of human rights violations. I have met her a number of times and there is no doubt about her level of commitment to help champion freedom and progress for Filipinos.

Esteemed writer Ninotchka Rosca completes the Gabnet 3. Rosca is perhaps the worst enemy the Arroyo government has called to do battle against it. She is a veteran of the anti-Marcos resistance, a long-time champion of women’s rights. She is the international spokesperson of the Purple Rose Campaign, a project of Gabriela that seeks worldwide action on violence against women.

I am looking forward to Rosca’s updates on Lily Pad, her personal blog in the same way that the nation expects strong statements of concern from Rosca’s fellow writers, activists or not, and her legions of fans.

What Mrs. Arroyo’s cabal hopes to accomplish by oppressing the Gabnet 3 is beyond me. If the Anti-Terrorism Council or Task Force considers them as terrorists, then the opponents of the Human Security Act have another big argument for the law’s repeal because what they did in Manila was simply not terrorism. If the Arroyo government keeps them “virtually arrested” for “nebulous” reasons, then it is practically shoving itself under stricter scrutiny.

The Arroyo government’s harassment against the Gabnet 3 is doomed to fail because it is unjust and unfair. The three women are worthy successors of anti-colonial heroine Gabriela Silang.

In photo, the Gabnet 3 composed of (L-R) Rosca, Enrile and Mirkinson. Photo courtesy of Arkibong Bayan.

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