NDF Negros points out the double threat of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its socio-economic impact especially on the poorest families whose needs are yet to be properly addressed by the Duterte regime as soon as possible.
While it is almost commendable that politicians are donating a part or their entire salaries as a form of aid in the crisis, it is misleading the public eye. It is unnecessary for politicians to resort to a philanthropic approach if the state had the foresight to prepare for a national emergency, instead of military overspending and prioritizing pork barrel—which is billions more than the supposed donated amount of any politician.
As reported by Duterte to Congress, despite the said allocated emergency fund, government agencies are using their current appropriated funds to address the pandemic. This means the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will only realign budget towards DSWD, DOH, DOLE and other departments if necessary, making the process more stringent and prone to red tape.
The expedited release of the 275 billion budget should be of utmost priority. The granting of emergency powers to Duterte was railroaded, but the powers granted are still yet to prove its purpose. Mass testing are yet to be conducted starting today. Local Government Units (LGU) are making individual strides to cope with the crisis. Millions of families who have been waiting for support in the past three weeks are instead subjected to additional procedures that do not answer their imminent need against hunger. The 4Ps beneficiaries will only receive a top-up fund (from 5,000-8,000 down to 2,850 to 5,850), while recipients of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) are yet to be determined by LGUs. So far, the granting of ‘emergency powers’ is proving to be ironic, to say the least.
Instead of hastening aid, the Duterte government is hell-bent on the witch-hunt against critics. Duterte spent an entire conference criticizing Diokno and the call for his ouster, while his AFP-PNP lapdogs are vilifying those who show sincerity in helping the people, on top of mass arrests and threats. The AFP-PNP are also widely violating their own declaration of a unilateral ceasefire. Military and police operations continue all over the country, such as the ransacking of homes in Guihulngan, an illegal arrest in Canlaon, and aerial bombings in Mindanao. The only quick response the current administration has given amid the COVID-19 pandemic involves fascism and brutality.
Meanwhile, the CPP-NPA-NDF is strictly adhering to its unilateral ceasefire declaration. Revolutionary forces and mass organizations are focusing on mass health campaigns and emergency economic measures. Particularly in Negros, all guerrilla fronts and revolutionary forces are holding community educational discussions and are drafting plans, if not already implementing them, to confront the pandemic. A Klinikang Bayan was launched and immediate measures are being undertaken en masse.
With the threat of additional weeks of quarantines coupled with a largely disorganized manner of responding to the people’s needs, Duterte is clearly leaving the Filipino people behind to further his tyrannical interests. His ambitions will only result to a broader united front more determined than ever to oust him, and establish a social order that is rooted on social justice, genuine democracy, and a just and lasting peace. ###