Allusions

The members of the Philippines 1935 Constitutional Convention limited the right of suffrage to male citizens because of the belief that there was no popular demand for the right of suffrage by Filipino women themselves. At that time, it was also claimed that granting women the right to vote would cause disruption in family unity as the women would become actively engaged in politics. But the proponents of the bill on women’s suffrage argued that the right to vote would make women more interested in the management of the affairs of the government.

Among the many Filipino women who fought for women’s right to vote are Pura Villanueva KalawLibrada AvelinoConcepcion Felix RodriguezEncarnacion Versoza,Pilar Hidalgo LimRosa Sevilla AlveroRosario LamJosefa Llanes EscodaNatividad Almeda LopezMinerva Guysayko Laudico and Tarhata Putri Kiram.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos issued Proclamation No. 2346 declaring April 30 of each year as Women Suffrage Day in tribute to the women who cast their votes in favor of women’s suffrage in 1937. (wikipilipinas.org)

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Frank Murphy signed the women suffrage law (picture copied from internet).

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DILG picture of a woman exercising her right of suffrage.

We have one vote, men and women, rich and poor. One vote that we hope to make our country better. I have no illusions that there will be significant changes in the days to come. Listening from the new women Senators, I can only conclude that they are too far off from reality. One of them said in national television that she would strengthen the laws on the protection of women and children but did not said how and what aspect. The problem is that we already have too many laws and there are no support mechanisms that were given to women and children.

There is already a law which mandates local government units to establish shelter and provide the evaluation, counselling and care for victims of rape and other abuses but it is not implemented. Only a few LGU have  established these shelter and provided means of livelihood to victims and their family.

Abuses abound, even the famous (Kris and Ai-ai) were subjected to domestic violence (RA 9262, Violence Against Women and their Children Act). How can the poor be protected if the children are raped by the father, and the mother tolerates the abuses because she does not know where to go, how they would live if the father is the sole breadwinner will be jailed, “paano ang bigas”.

The increasing consciousness of Filipino voters has increased the number of women legislators and women in politics, the Local Chief Executives who are supposed to give priority to the concerns of the marginalized, the poorest of the poor – who are mostly women and children.

I cannot blame those who did not exercise their right to vote, I can only pray that they put their trust on their one vote to create ripples that would lead to change in our political scene. Their sense of doom, of everything going bad and helplessness, no hope for this country – could be a motivating factor for them to start with themselves and not look around for someone to do the dirty work.

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? – Barrack Obama.

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