Today, November 23, eight groups of women and labor organizations trooped to the Commission on Human Rights Commission on Human Rights (CHR), to file a complaint of discrimination and violation of women’s rights under the Magna Carta of Women against PhilHealth Regional Vice President Paolo Johann Perez and regional office employees.
According to Joanna Bernice Coronacion, Deputy Secretary General of Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), “In two days, we are marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (VAW), and we should remind the state and the public that reinforcement of women’s objectification is unacceptable.”
Jean Enriquez, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP), cited that within the definition of discrimination in the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which is the basis of the Magna Carta of Women, is distinction of women on the basis of sex with the purpose of nullifying her rights. “In this instance as in many normalized instances of treating women as gifts to men and their portrayal as always sexually available to men, women’s right to be treated equal in dignity is violated.”
Judy Ann Chan Miranda, Secretary General of Partido Manggagawa (PM), cited Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which states that public officials and employees shall at all times be accountable to the people and shall discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence and loyalty, act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives, and uphold public interest over personal interest. “RA 6713 also states that government resources and powers of their respective offices must be employed and used efficiently, honestly and economically, thus the use of PhilHealth office to display utter disregard for women’s rights should be accounted for,” Miranda added.
Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, National Coordinator of WomanHealth Philippines, also deplored the acts of the PhilHealth officials and employees which she says normalize the hyper-objectification of women and discourage women and girls from reporting when they are abused. “Women and girls are reluctant to report sexual violence because of fear of being blamed since public officials normalize sexual objectification,” Nemenzo stressed.
Amparo Miciano, Secretary General of Pambansang Kongreso ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), “The State, as the primary duty-bearer, shall refrain from discriminating against women and violating their rights; protect women against discrimination and from violation of their rights by entities, and individuals; and fulfill the rights of women in all spheres, including their rights to substantive equality and non-discrimination,” Miciano added in quoting the Magna Carta of Women.
Other complainants were Ellene Sana, Executive Director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), Janina Luz Cruz Sarmiento, representing the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), and Myrna Jimenez, representing SARILAYA.
The complaint stemmed from the Senate blue ribbon committee’s report on its investigation into PhilHealth anomalies back in August 2019. It took the panel a year to finalize the report because of other investigations and the coronavirus pandemic, according to Senator Richard Gordon of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. The committee report read that “on his birthday, Perez received a gift, an enormous box, in his office. A girl, dressed in nothing but her underwear, danced and gyrated provocatively in front of Perez.”
The acts cited in the report pertaining to the purchase of a woman by PhilHealth employees and the condonation of such by the PhilHealth official, fundamentally illustrates that women as a group can be treated as commodities that can be bought and used as entertainment for sexual pleasure.
The CHR, mandated as the Gender and Development Ombud by the Magna Carta of Women, is primarily responsible for investigations and complaints of discrimination and violations of their rights brought under this Act and related laws and regulations.
Nice Coronacion 09178523381
Jean Enriquez 09778105326