Women members of civil society groups clad in black shirts and holding bananas staged a protest-rally in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Monday calling for a strong Philippine government support for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
“We call on governments of the world to stop exporting weapons and ammunitions when there's a substantial risk that these weapons will be used to commit human rights violations and gender-based violence,” said Jasmin Nario-Galace, spokesperson of the Philippine Action Network to Control Arms (PhilANCA) in an interview with reporters.
Galace said that they were calling on President Benigno Aquino III to support the treaty and ignore myths and misconceptions about the accord.
“The ATT does not aim to prevent countries from building their defense industry; it will not stop gun owners from owning guns,” Galace said.
She said that the treaty has been under a five-year diplomatic negotiation, and she hoped that it would be adopted during the UN General Assembly by world leaders in July.
Galace said she hopes that President Benigno Aquino III would uphold the treaty since he signed a declaration in 2006 supporting it.
“Please don't be affected by myths and misconceptions, Mr. President. It is not going to stop us from building a credible defense industry, she added.
Galace said that money used for importation of guns should instead be used for poverty reduction initiatives.
“More than 2,000 people a day die from armed violence in conflict and non-conflict settings. There should be a stop to this,” she said.
Galace said women were dramatizing the call because they were disproportionately affected by armed violence due to lack of this treaty.
“We women are standing for a treaty that would be gender responsive. Women should not be abused,” she said.
When asked why their groups were using bananas in their protest, she said it was absurd that there were global market policies regulating trade in bananas when there was none regulating trade in firearms.
“Why do we regulate bananas? Bananas don't kill people. It is about time that we regulate trade in firearms,” she said.
PhilANCA was joined by members of Pax Christi Pilipinas, Amnesty International, Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court and various student groups.