PHILIPPINES: Women's Group Wants Aquino to 'Walk the Talk'

Tuesday, June 15, 2010
South Eastern Asia
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President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is faced with big expectations from a country disillusioned with the alleged excesses of the previous administration.

But unlike most people who resorted to wish lists and plain accusations, a women's group opted to do it in style -- through a fashion show.

Just recently, militant women's party-list group Gabriela concluded its "Project RunAway" fashion show, which dared Aquino to walk his talk by "taking the lead by action, not by abstract rhetoric."

The group was referring to Aquino's promise during his campaign to lead the Philippines to the daang matuwid (straight path) by going against corrupt practices and protecting the rights of the poor.

"The elections are over and the challenge for him to heed the clamor of the people looms high. Only then could he make a clean slate and bring on meaningful change to governance," said Emmi de Jesus, vice president of Gabriela.

Wearing costumes out of play money, chains, and other recycled materials, Gabriela members and leaders of various organizations strutted down the runway to deliver their message to the country's 15th chief executive.

A number of celebrities and models also gave their support for the fashion show, which was inspired by the popular American reality show "Project Runway."

"Genuinely serving the Filipino people will not be straight and narrow, and the Filipino women challenge President-elect Noynoy Aquino to take the path none of his predecessors traversed," de Jesus said.

Wish list

On top of Gabriela's wish list is for Aquino, as part of his daang matuwid campaign, to send outgoing President Arroyo and "her minions" to jail.

Mrs. Arroyo faced accusations of cheating in the 2004 presidential elections and involvement in graft and corrupt practices during her 9-year term in Malacanang. She is set to assume a congressional seat in her hometown, Pampanga.

Her husband and son have also been accused of similar charges, including involvement in jueteng, an illegal numbers game.

"The first step toward this supposed righteous path starts with sending to jail Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her minions accountable for the numerous crimes they committed against the people," de Jesus said.

Aside from this, the women's group said Aquino should abolish the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), calling it "unfair and biased."

"We have reason to fear that Noynoy's regime will be no different from that of his predecessor in kowtowing to US dictates," said Lana Linaban, Gabriela's secretary general.