In the face of rapid rise in Covid-19 infections which is steadily overwhelming hospitals, health workers issued statements calling for comprehensive changes in the government’s strategy to manage the pandemic. Instead of addressing these calls, Duterte angrily rebuked them for making public their demands and proceeded to taunt them declaring “if revolution is what you want, do it, and do it now.”
If he insists on his military and police-centric response to the pandemic and does not relent on intimidating people, Duterte is bound to get what he wishes for. Hardships and sufferings brought about by Duterte’s failed response to the pandemic are rousing the people. More and more are now openly indignant and defiant. People are realizing more clearly that the biggest impediment to the country’s ability to surmount the pandemic is Duterte himself.
Because of the fascist orientation and mindset of Duterte and his cabal of inept generals controlling the Inter-Agency Task Force, the Covid-19 pandemic is treated more as a national security question and a matter of political survival, and less than a public health crisis. They are more obsessed with suppressing discontent, than the virus. He took advantage of the situation to secure the anti-terror law under which he claimed additional extraconstitutional powers. He is itching to use these powers in the vain hope of silencing everyone and securing his power.
Since the start, the Duterte regime failed to put into place urgent measures to strengthen the capacity of the country’s health system to manage the pandemic. Measures to strengthen the public hospitals and laboratories, recruit additional nurses, provide enough personal protective equipment, raise their wages and give medical insurance are absent, inadequate or late.
Hospital and medical facilities are reaching full capacity, forcing doctors and nurses to go on rotations of 10 days or longer. There is a disproportionely high rate of infections and deaths among health workers. Laboratories are overwhelmed and unable to cope with the number of tests. Data reporting is slow and unable to provide a real-time picture of the pandemic.
As a result, the number of Covid-19 infections in the Philippines continue to rise, making Filipinos even more vulnerable to the pandemic. The number of cases has skyrocketed to 120,000, four times more compared to a month ago. The number of deaths has doubled to more than 2,000. The regime continues to rely on lockdowns to control the infections. In Marcosian fashion, Duterte blames the people’s “lack of discipline” for the spread of the virus to justify the restrictions and suppression of people’s freedoms as pandemic tactic. Poeple are forced to stay in their homes without income or livelihood, and without adequate and timely social subsidies.
In Metro Manila, tens of thousands are rushing to go home to their provinces. Idiotic travel restrictions and policies resulted in large crowds congregating in airports, piers and stadiums waiting to travel. Hundreds were likely infected and became disease transmitters in the provinces. Many reported that their first Covid-19 infections involve people returning from abroad or from Manila.
Duterte’s prolonged lockdowns have devastated the economy. The economic decline due to the international capitalist crisis has accelerated. Millions of people are going hungry and driven to desperate straits. Thousands are forced to beg in the streets, especially since many have yet to receive social subsidies. The regime has no plans to distribute additional subsidies despite borrowing hundreds of billion pesos, but has plans to cut taxes of big foreign capitalists. Instead of investing in production to manufacture medical equipment and other necessary commodities to create jobs and reduce reliance on imports, the regime is going berserk in borrowing money to fund its corruption-laden infrastructure projects.
Duterte took advantage of the pandemic to consolidate his tyrannical regime and tighten his grip on the fascist state. Under the regime’s new terror law, the police and military establishment has been given unprecedented powers suppress people’s democratic rights. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, counterinsurgency and political repression are the tyrant’s top priorities.
Duterte spews the vilest propaganda against the patriotic, progressive and revolutionary forces and promotes the most backward, unscientific and repugnant ideas in the vain hope of poisoning the minds of the people to keep them in a perpetual state of stupor. However, the more that Duterte assaults the people with his lies and demagoguery, the more that he rouses the people’s indignation and stokes the fire in their bellies.
The more that Duterte uses the pandemic to strengthen his grip on power, to accumulate more wealth by diverting public funds, serve the economic interests of his favored oligarchs, and further kowtow and surrender the country’s economic sovereignty to China in exchange for financial and political favors, the more that people are convinced that there is no other recourse but to raise their collective voices to demand the tyrant’s resignation or cause his ouster. The Filipino people know they cannot wait for a vaccine or for 2022, knowing how deeper the rut that Duterte will pull the country into within that time.
Clouds of a perfect storm continue to gather. The people’s rumblings of discontent steadily grow stronger and await the opportunity to explode in a conflagration that will surely terrorize the tyrant and surpass his worst nightmares. People must heighten efforts at getting more organized and raise their capacity in mobilizing their ranks. Soon enough, the Filipino people will be able to overcome the regime’s reign of terror, surmount state repression and bring together large numbers of people in an exercise of the people’s power. Duterte likes to believe that he has surpassed Marcos for having established a dictatorship without yet declaring martial law. But in the end, he will prove to be no different from Marcos, who was driven away by the invincible force of a united people.
As the detested regime intensifies its antidemocratic and anticommunist tirades and attacks, the Filipino people, especially the youth, are becoming more open to revolutionary propaganda and education. The pandemic has laid bare the ills of the semicolonial and semifeudal society which can only be resolved through a people’s democratic revolution.
By tirelessly arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people, the revolutionary movement is rapidly expanding and strengthening its ranks both in the underground mass movement and in the armed movement in the countryside. The Filipino people’s national democratic aspirations are ever fervent and irrepressible.