Duterte’s militaristic strategy in face of COVID-19 pandemic bodes far worse fate for Filipino masses

Rubi del Mundo | Spokesperson | NDF-Southern Mindanao | National Democratic Front of the Philippines
March 19, 2020
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The National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao vehemently denounces the US-Duterte regime’s month-long lockdown at the National Capital Region and the regional/local/city community quarantine declarations in handling the outbreak of Coronavirus-19 disease in the country. Workers, urban poor and other members of the working class who live and thrive in hand-to-mouth subsistence and were placed under curfew, curtailment of movement, and restricted transport bear the brunt of this militaristic pandemic remedy.

As the situation unfolds, it is becoming clear to the Filipino people that the US-Duterte regime’s militarist strategy is not meant to address the health crisis but to preemptively stifle dissent that is sure to ensue as the burdensome effects of lockdowns and community quarantines become increasingly felt by the civilian population.

Feeding the prevalent confusion of the masses, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte has prescribed “prohibition” on travelling in and out of the city and restricting the people’s movements with community quarantine, while refusing to declare such measures as “lockdown.” The general public find no consolation in her words nor viable means to address their problems such as food, work and other needs. Ever the supporter of militaristic approach in dealing with civilian situations, Sara Duterte has effectively placed the workers, urban poor, and plantation workers of Davao City at the mercy of the fascist discretion of the AFP and PNP, with no regard to how the masses will be able to feed their families—they who are forced to live with paltry wages or under no-work-no-pay schemes; odd jobs and/or selling lowly priced agricultural produce on a daily basis.

In the few days following the national declaration, Davao City and its neighboring provinces have either become virtual ghost towns or are uncertain as to how to cope; prices of basic goods have fluctuated, with medical supplies becoming very expensive or scarce; and civilians were left to fend for themselves despite of restrictions in their movement and with fear of being arbitrarily arrested by armed state agents.

Flaunting their sheltered and insensitive ruling class status, Duterte’s sycophantic minions meanwhile insist that the effects of the pandemic in the people’s economic situation will be “ephemeral,” going as far as idiotically insisting that the poor can afford to go hungry since no one has died of hunger.

As is the policy of this fascist reactionary regime, Duterte has elected to subject the Filipino people under military control instead of delivering concrete remedies such as beefing up the country’s health sector to squarely address the spread of the disease, and ensure that the masses of workers and peasants receive economic safety nets to tide them over as the effects of the pandemic unfold.

The US-Duterte regime is mainly scrambling to remedy the systemic flaws of the semi-colonial and semi-feudal system with stopgap measures such as lockdown and community quarantine. It refuses to recognize that beyond the immediate result of increasing toll of deaths and confirmed cases of infection, its band-aid militarist solution bodes a far worse scenario of widespread hunger and poverty, social unrest, and rapid economic decline that will hit the poor with severity and persistence.

Presently, the Philippines has had 8 deaths and 111 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the alarming toll of pandemic involving 128,000 cases and almost 5,000 deaths worldwide. While other countries had exercised some degree of action in dealing with travel to and from China, Duterte’s patent flip-flopping in the past weeks and his recent assertion to even depend on China in the event of the situation becoming worse, shows his inveterate subservience to imperialist interests, endangering Filipino lives in exchange for maintaining his lopsided relations.

We urge our revolutionary health professionals and forces to help educate the masses regarding the disease and practical preventive measures to avoid contraction. They must expose the inutile and fascist measures the US-Duterte regime is employing, which are meant not to provide solution but to inoculate itself from liability.

Revolutionary forces in Southern Mindanao are enjoined to conduct information drive among the masses to ensure that they are able to draw up plans of action to keep their communities safe and be kept abreast of the development of this health crisis. Consultations must also be undertaken to prepare for the expected consequences in the economic activity of the masses as a result of the regime’s restrictions and regulations.

The masses, led by their revolutionary organizations, must prepare for and launch all forms of political action to oppose the Covid-justified de facto martial law of the US-Duterte regime. Furthermore, NDF-SMR urges the masses to be vigilant and assiduous in the machinations of the US-Duterte regime to use the pandemic and deploy its ubiquitous fake news peddling as an excuse to suppress social unrest and perpetuate itself in power.

(sgd.) RUBI DEL MUNDO

Spokesperson

Duterte’s militaristic strategy in face of COVID-19 pandemic bodes far worse fate for Filipino masses