Women activists, tribal youth, and students joined the launch of the One Billion Rising 2020 campaign in Manila on Oct. 29 with a call to protect the environment from destructive projects.
The protesters performed dances inside the University of the Philippines to “jumpstart” the global campaign for environmental protection.
Joms Salvador of the women’s group Gabriela said this year’s event is “a call to all women whose land, ancestral domain, water resources, and jobs are threatened.”
The One Billion Rising campaign, which was first launched in 2012, is a global call to end violence against women and girls.
At least one in three women, or one billion women worldwide, is beaten or raped in her lifetime.
Salvador said the issue of environmental protection and the impacts of the climate crisis are major concerns of Filipino women and children.
“Women and children are the most vulnerable every time a human-induced or natural disaster comes,” she said.
“We must stand together to stop the attacks on the environment,” added Salvador.
Filipino women rights groups and advocates will “localize” this year’s One Billion Rising activities based on the global theme “Raise the Vibration, Rise the Revolution.”
The Philippine events will place emphasis on the call to end the “exploitation of the motherland.”
Maryel Rugas, convener of Task Force One Billion Rising, lambasted the government’s infrastructure projects, which she described as being funded by “unfair loan agreements.”
She said most of projects threaten tribal territories and ancestral lands.
Rugas cited the construction of Kaliwa Dam in the northern Philippines.
The project, which is being funded by a US$248-million loan from China, is expected to displace at least 15,000 tribal people.
Rugas called on Filipino women to “rise for the Motherland” and put pressure on the government to stop the construction of the dam.
On Oct. 28, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned that he will use his “extraordinary powers” to ensure the construction of the dam.
Early in October, the dam project was given an environmental compliance certificate by the government’s Environment office, which drew criticisms from church and pro-environment groups.
“We need more voices, especially the voices of the women and those people who are affected by this project,” said Franciscan priest Pete Montallana, head of the Save Sierra Madre Network.
“We cannot allow the government to ruin the future of the young,” added Father Montallana.
Organizers of the One Billion Rising campaign said they will stage flash mob dance routines in public places and other protest activities in the coming days.