THE VIRUS THAT IS DUTERTE
April 3, 2020
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte is the virus in the society that brazenly harms and kills the very people he swore to serve and to defend.
quarantine knowing full well that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
The fascist Duterte unleashed the darkness last April 1st and ordered the military instead of concrete economic and health measures to help the people during the worsening Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Duterte fascist government responded with continuing arrests, killings and vilification of everyone standing up against the criminal regime. The recent arrest by the military and the police of more than 20 Quezon City hungry residents who protested the non-delivery of the promised government’s relief goods and social assistance only exposes the condemnable desperate move of the Duterte fascist regime. This double-standard government will only apprehend the poor, from putting the “curfew breakers” in dog cages or leaving them under the scorching heat of the sun to threatening to shoot them. But it will coddle its affluent and powerful friends and cohorts like Senator Koko Pimentel who put a whole hospital at risk by visiting it in deliberate violation of his home and police to arrest people causing “troubles” and to “shoot them dead.” In the midst of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the fascist regime has decided to continue to use military might to suppress the people, instead of suppressing the spread of the virus.
Relief goods, emergency support, financial assistance, and medical service are some of the people’s legitimate demands after Duterte put Luzon in lockdown without any thoughtful and thorough preparation, planning or delivery. People are jobless, hungry and scared and challenged with the basic health precautions of physical distancing and washing with water and soap. The lockdown which was meant to slow down the spread of COVID-19 has instead taken its toll on the many thousands of displaced workers and urban poor communities who depend on being able to go to work and earn their daily wages. But this cruel and heartless regime is stripping the people of their dignity and dragging them quickly into their deathbeds, more than the deadly COVID-19 does.
Stories of a suicide attempt by a father who could not provide food for his family and of starving disenfranchised urban poor settlers marching on the street are not surprising. They tell of the fears and desperation of ordinary people who are caught in the incompetence, downright neglect and incapability of the government and state agencies.
Unfortunately, the Duterte government’s negligence is causing unnecessary casualties. Due to the lack of protective equipment, mass testing, hospital beds and supplies, and other tools to fight the virus, more and more Filipino healthcare workers are being infected with the virus and worse, succumbing to death as in the case of at least 17 doctors, all front line workers in the fight against the pandemic.
This greedy government gave itself emergency powers on March 24 under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which included the P275 billion worth of public funds earmarked for the COVID-19 response efforts. The Act also placed the country under a state of emergency, effective for three months unless extended. The Duterte government has not publicly shared a master plan for the allocation of the budget despite the people’s pressing need for relief.
And now, the Duterte government is persecuting officials who make the government look stupid and inutile through ingenious ways to address the needs of their constituents, even without the help from the national government. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) summoned Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto to explain his supposed violation of the government’s quarantine policy or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act — he had creatively proposed the use of tricycles for health workers’ transportation which did not please the government. On the other hand, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission asked the NBI to also investigate Vice President Leni Robredo over her relief drive that the government said “competed with” or was “calculated to undermine” the national government’s efforts amid the COVID-19 crisis.
While other countries are showing humanitarian compassion by releasing political prisoners and low-risk offenders during the pandemic, the Philippine government continues to keep the prisoners in the congested jails and detention centres where COVID outbreaks are most likely to happen. The appeals of human rights groups, the families of political prisoners and the urging of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to governments to release its prisoners have fallen on deaf ears. KARAPATAN, the Philippine human rights alliance reports that as of March 28, there are 609 political prisoners in different facilities nationwide, 63 of them are afflicted with life-threatening and debilitating illnesses and 47 are elderly.
The fascist attacks against progressives and ordinary people continue unabated, and with impunity, despite the pandemic. Bohol cultural activist Marlon Maldos was gunned down on March 16. Just before March ended, 66-year-old peasant leader Nora Apique was shot dead in Surigao del Sur. Meanwhile, human rights group Karapatan Regional Council Member Teresita Naul was arrested by police and military on March 15 in Lanao del Norte. An ordinary public school teacher Juliet Espinosa was arrested on March 27 after she had posted on Facebook that the people under community quarantine in General Santos City were hungry and that they should seize the relief goods stocked in their local gym.
All of them were victims of threats, red-tagging, harassment, extrajudicial killings, arrest and detention by the government,military and police forces. Instead of helping the front line workers, relief workers community organizers, and ordinary people to find ways to stop the spread of the COVID-19 and help each other, the heartless, incompetent, corrupt and fascist Duterte government and the military continue its unrelentless war against the people.
Be it hunger, political persecution or the coronavirus, the people will not perish, neither will they succumb to the Duterte regime, the scourge that is the cause of so much suffering and hardship among the people.
The coronavirus will run its course and hopefully a vaccine will be created soon. The Duterte virus will have its end too. The Filipino people will destroy this virus, this scourge that darkens the land. The lessons from our people’s history tell us that the people will prevail. They will strike down this scourge and nothing will stop them.
The scourge in Malacanang must be stopped. The virus that is Duterte must be eradicated.
Free all Political Prisoners Now!
Stop the killings!
Justice to all victims of human rights violations!
OUST DUTERTE NOW!