The new Corona virus is a neoliberal disaster

Duterte attempts to deflect criticisms while people call for his ouster

It could be called a classic case of too little, too late but even that would be an oversimplification of the issue. What is clear is that the Duterte regime is now on a full-blown defensive mode after receiving widespread condemnation regarding the government’s mishandling of the 2019 new Corona virus (nCoV).

Worse Viruses: Irresponsibility and Unaccountability

The National Democratic Front – Ilocos deplores the Duterte administration’s desperate efforts to deflect criticisms instead of focusing on crisis management. After finally deciding to stir from unacceptable silence, Duterte spoke up regarding the virus that grips the nation in a state of near-panic. However, instead of communicating the government’s measures against the virus’ effects, he chose to dismiss the casualties as a non-issue.

In reality, though there are only two confirmed cases of nCoV in the Philippines, the death of the second patient is the only fatality outside China where the virus supposedly originated. And yet, he grievously delayed banning travellers coming in from mainland China, Macau and Hong Kong; that is, until the backlash was so great even he could not ignore it anymore. Before this, the best he could do was promise to hold a meeting regarding the outbreak a week after it started. Meanwhile, the people were expected to sit still.

Like a tyrant in a tower so removed from his constituents, Duterte does not understand that his ill-preparedness and belittlement of the virus itself is the cause for the people’s almost panic. He predicts that the outbreak “will die a natural death” as if he is a circus soothsayer and not the highest official of an entire nation. And yet, it was reported that Malacañang Palace required all its personnel to wear masks while any physical contact with Duterte was prohibited.

While Duterte vainly attempts to change the narrative, his trusted lapdog Bong Go spews tirades against those that criticise the government. Like a rabid mutt that has lost any sense, he wanted to quarantine a wide range of individuals—from those that justifiably called out the Duterte regime for its relaxed approach to the crisis to those who called for Duterte’s ouster.

Ills of Neoliberalism

On the other end of the defense line, the delusional Health Secretary Francisco Duque denied that the country has a weak health system. He reasons that the Philippines is “a middle-income country.” Hence, it is excluded from the World Health Organization’s concerns.

However blinded Duque is, the neoliberal policies that undermined the healthcare system are the same policies causing Duterte to tread carefully so as to maintain profitable friendship with the Chinese government, at the expense of the Filipino people’s lives and wellbeing.

Neoliberalism takes form in privatization of social services such as government hospitals and health facilities, among others. So-called aid from private sector is actually public debt.

Privatization is the exact opposite of making health services more affordable and accessible to the public. The Philippines’ leading cause of death remain to be diseases that are both preventable and curable.

In the same vein, Duterte’s onerous debts to China would actually be paid off through more taxes, not to mention with collateral Philippine sovereignty and patrimonial assets. And now, apparently, with Filipino lives. In true Duterte fashion, the beggarly president then absurdly blamed the Filipino people for being Sinophobic.

The Filipino people cannot rely on the Duterte administration to protect them from the nCoV. It can neither expect Duterte to own up to his own loyalties nor put an end to neoliberal policies. Thus, the mass movement in the Ilocos Region will continue to link arms with the rest of the nation in exposing and opposing neoliberalism that murders and displaces the people in ways more cruel than nCoV itself. It expresses its solidarity with the entire Filipino people in defeating the nCoV and using this issue as one amongst many for the ouster of an inutile and oppressive regime. More importantly, the armed revolution in the countryside will continue to flourish and advance in order to completely demolish the rottening system that Duterte embodies. ###