The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns the Duterte regime’s incompetence in providing concrete solutions in addressing the spread of COVID-19 in the country and using the scheduled lockdown to camouflage its intensified martial law in the national capital.
Rodrigo Duterte announced yesterday that the region will be locked down starting March 15 purportedly to stop the spread of the COVID-19. Around 12 million people will be barred from traveling to and from the region, whether by land, air or sea. Up to 3 million more workers from nearby provinces will have their movements restrained.
Failing to make restitution for cuts in the health budget and its failure to take decisive action at the onset of the disease outbreak, Duterte disregarded the deployment of health practitioners and setting up of adequate testing centers to contain the virus by providing accessible and immediate aid in affected areas. Instead, he ordered the massive deployment of armed state forces across the region. The Philippine National Police earlier announced its plan to dispatch around 40,000 cops should a lockdown be implemented. As per reports, police forces and soldiers are already stationed in key areas of Metro Manila for the lockdown.
In line with this, Duterte ordered his state forces to arrest anyone who will not abide by “their rules.” This marching order and the massive deployment of troops are reminiscent of martial law in Mindanao and under Marcos wherein cases of warrantless arrests and arbitrary detention were pervasive. The lockdown will be weaponized to silence dissenters,curtail the people’s right to protest and just demands to address the spread of COVID-19.
Duterte’s approach to the pandemic reflects his militarism in the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), whose warmongers spearhead his “counterinsurgency” campaign and at the same time comprise the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID), which was formed and tasked by Duterte to address the public health emergency.
Apart from this, Duterte has not presented concrete plans for Filipino workers who will be gravely affected by the said lockdown. Millions of Filipinos in the capital will be forced to live with pressed down incomes and under threat of COVID-19 infection. As of today, the virus has infected more than 128,000 people worldwide and has caused at least 4,717 deaths. The Duterte regime officially claims 52 local cases with five deaths.
The CPP calls on the Filipino people to vigorously protest the inutile and incompetent handling of the COVID-19 issue by the regime. They must demand adequate testing centers and accessible health services, and the pullout of state forces deployed even prior to the lockdown’s onset. They must stand against the implementation of the lockdown and condemn the Duterte regime for using it as pretext to justify intensified fascist attacks against civilians. They must defy martial law in Metro Manila. ###