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Women Studies and Resource Center- Southern Mindanao Region (WSRC)

Davao City Philippines
November 2011

Grant Description

The Philippines has become a battleground between local peoples and foreign-owned companies in recent decades; and the government often sides with corporations by encouraging the establishment of mining and agricultural operations- usually on indigenous peoples’ lands. In October 2011, members of the military attacked the community of Arakan, killing, injuring, and imprisoning a number of people and driving others to evacuate from the area. This attack occurred in a larger context of increasing violence in which the Italian priest Father Fausto Tentorio was murdered only three days earlier, most likely due to his work in defending indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands in the area. In the attack the army broke into the homes of two men, one killed and the other tortured and detained, accusing them of being members of the leftist New People’s Army. These men were husbands of two women activists of the local organization, Women Studies and Resource Center- Southern Mindanao Region (WSRC). Fearing that these women would be targeted next, WSRC requested funds to evacuate them and assist them with living expenses- including providing them with safe transportation so that they could attend talk shows on radio and TV and discuss the attack.

Women’s rights organization WSRC, founded by women social development workers, aims to build the capacity of indigenous and agriculture worker women in the region through holding workshops, organizing educational discussions and forums on issues affecting women, and providing financial and psychological services to women whose rights are being attacked/stressed.

Impact Report

Funds were used to evacuate the two women whose husbands were targeted by the military, as well as to provide for their basic needs as they both prepared to give birth towards the end of 2011. Since the husbands were the primary breadwinners, the killing of one and the imprisonment of the other placed a significant burden on their wives as well as their children. Funds were also used to pay for a lawyer to represent the women in a case against the military, as they were unable to find a probono lawyer. Since their experience, the two women have been asked to speak in various local fora and educational discussions about their experiences and human rights violations in North Cobatato. WSRC notes that the women “have become an inspiration to other women to protect women's human rights as seen in the increasing number of women participating in the celebration of International Women's Day on March 8.”