Ka Juliet de Lima, interim chairperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), rated the Duterte regime’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic a “negative 99.9%.” “He (Rodrigo Duterte) has absolutely done nothing right” and instead scourged the people and made the government bankrupt.
“The regime’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic has been militarist and not medical,” said Ka Julie. It has not taken into consideration the rights and welfare of the people in implementing its lockdown and quarantine measures. Actually, this has even resulted in the rapid spread of the pandemic and repress the people, especially poor, she added.
Duterte plundered public coffers under the guise of distributing aid and conducting mass testing. “No benefits have been delivered to the mass of Covid-19 sufferers nor to the millions of people deprived of livelihood as a result of the lockdown.”
“And worst, responders belonging to the legal mass organizations such as Zara Alvarez are either arrested, tortured and treacherously killed by the military and police supposedly deployed to enforce the quarantine and lockdown.”
Medical and health workers should be put in charge of the fight against the pandemic, pointed out Ka Julie. Priority funding must be made to the medical fight against the pandemic. This means emergency funding must be made available to aid the people affected by the socioeconomic effect of the pandemic.
“The military and its facilities should not be deployed in enforcing the quarantine and lockdown but in using its own medical personnel and units in boosting up health and medical efforts in the fight against the pandemic.” She said that they should only be utilized in providing services such assisting those affected by the lockdown in to go back to their home provinces. Local police forces should be deployed in giving emergency aid to those in need of help.
“Duterte and his cronies must be stopped from plundering public funds and the emergency aid and loans given or made available by foreign countries and international agencies to the Filipino people.”
Ka Julie criticized the regime for pouring billions of taxpayer funds into its prime counterinsurgency drive, awarding NTF-ELCAC with an astounding 2,969% budget increase. “This huge wastage of public funds on the military is a major cause of the bankruptcy of the government,” she stressed. “Its effect is to add fuel to the people’s war rather than to stop it.”
If only Duterte has not cancelled the peace negotiations and respected agreements reached by both panels such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), this could have significantly helped his regime in facing the pandemic.
“CASER has relevant provisions on confronting the issue of the Covid-19 pandemic,” pointed out Ka Julie. It has a whole article devoted to the discussion of the people’s right to health, which includes the establishment of a universal public health system that provides free, comprehensive and quality health services for all. Before Ka Julie was appointed as interim chairperson of the panel, she served as the head of the reciprocal working committee which drafted the said agreement.
Sections 4, 5 and 6 of Article XIV (Right to Health) of CASER stipulates that integrated health systems shall give focus on sustainable preventive medicine with community-based comprehensive primary health care that provides quality health services and addresses nutrition, access to water, housing, education, employment and livelihoods, and other factors affecting health.
Section 5 ensures that health workers, medical and non-medical personnel receive living wages and salaries, get adequate benefits, work decent hours in humane work conditions, and security of tenure and employment. Section 6 stipulates the responsibility of the state to harness, develop and promote traditional, alternative and indigenous healing practices of communities and shall protect these from undue attack by intellectual property rights regimes and competition with imported medicines.