Gabriela rep slams HPG's deployment of 'ladies' strike force' as sexist, ill-conceived

MANILA, Philippines – Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas slammed the Highway Patrol Group's (HPG) recent deployment of a "ladies' strike force," calling it "an ill-conceived bid to more effectively apprehend traffic violators."

According to a Philippine Star report, the HPG recently deployed 23 female police officers on EDSA who were supposedly selected based on their looks.

On Tuesday, September 17, during the House plenary deliberations on the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority's (MMDA) proposed 2020 budget, Brosas referred to the remark of MMDA EDSA traffic chief Bong Nebrija that the women deployed were "girlfriend material" and will ease the stress caused by traffic. 

"Is this how the MMDA views women and traffic management? May kinalaman ba talaga ang deployment ng female officers sa pagpapagaan ng trapiko? (Does the deployment of female officers have anything to do with decongesting traffic?)" Brosas said.

On behalf of the women's party list, Brosas strongly objected to the "unabashed display of sexism" by the HPG and lambasted Nebrija's comment that the initiative was part of their gender equality program.

"Sa pagde-deploy ng sinasabing 'ladies' strike force,' kinakahon ang papel ng mga kababaihan bilang pambitag sa kanilang kabiguang solusyonan ang problema sa traffic sa Metro Manila," she said.

(By deploying the so-called 'ladies' strike force,' the role of women is reduced to being a band-aid solution for their failure in solving Metro Manila traffic.)

She added that initiatives and policies addressing the traffic situation should not be sexist and should not objectify women.

"The traffic problem is too serious to even indulge in sexism and experimental solutions. And as recent events show, getting stuck in EDSA is fatal," Brosas said.

Cases of emergency patients dying due to ambulances being stuck in Manila traffic have been reported recently. In response, President Rodrigo Duterte considered asking MMDA and HPG personnel to escort ambulances through traffic jams.

Quezon City 5th District Representative Alfred Vargas, sponsor of the MMDA's proposed budget, initially said the deployment was not under the MMDA.

He later defended the agency by saying it will not tolerate discrimination and sexist remarks.

"The MMDA as an institution categorically states that it is not its position to practice discrimination or mention any sexist remark," he said. –

Loreben Tuquero

Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.