Yesterday impoverished residents of barangay San Roque in Quezon City went out to the streets in spite of the ‘stay at home’ policy, exposing themselves to the COVID-19 threat. The reason? They were threatened by a more imminent danger – hunger – which they could not prevent nor escape from.
Fairly distancing themselves from one another they carried placards and chanted their demand – immediate relief from the social amelioration package which were supposed to have been given them days ago but never came. The reactionary government’s answer was prompt – a police round-up, physical blows and jail detention. The apprehending policemen would not listen to the residents’ reasons and charged the so-called ‘violators’ in spite of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte’s appeal to release them.
Just this morning workers, odd-jobbers, drivers, peasants and urban poor sectors in Iloilo, gathered at the DSWD-6 office in Iloilo City to air out their grievances. The supposedly immediate food relief promised by DSWD was nowhere. Added to this was the impossible deadline of submission of list of indigents upon only 3 days notice.
These scenes in QC and Iloilo City are just a microcosm of the widespread and intensifying discontent, disgust, fear and actual hunger felt by millions of Filipinos today. But what is the tyrant Duterte’s response to this dismal reality?
He arbitrarily accused the ‘left’-leaning organizations of ‘instigating disorder and chaos against the government’ and warned them that he would not hesitate to order his policemen to shoot and kill them or detain and starve them to death. He ranted that “they are in no way part of the government” and warned them to totally submit to government impositions, to endure their hunger because no one dies of hunger. Tell that to a three-year old who has not eaten for a day, you insensitive ruthless brute.
In this COVID-19 crisis, lockdowns and curfews are the order of the day for Duterte and his militarist minions, causing more disorder and confusion to the public. The bungling and incompetent president only knows how to issue anti-people executive orders, taxes, tariffs, rules, impositions, fines, killings, arrests, planted evidences, bombings, shellings and strike operations against the people. These are in fact all futile attempts to cover up his criminal culpability in neglecting and being callous to the people’s health, economic welfare, livelihood, rights and privileges.
The inter-agency task force under Duterte’s emergency powers led and run by military ex-generals instead of doctors and health experts has shown its inept and inadequate handling of the crisis which has worsened into economic depression graver than the virus crisis. The task force is boasting of huge national funding (P270 billion) but until now it has been in trickles, leaving the burden of relief and subsidy to the LGUs which are also short of funds. Another ridiculous rule by the task force is that contributions from private companies, enterprises and individuals to LGUs must be coursed thru the Office of the Civil Defence, meaning a virtual end to additional funding to cash-strapped LGUs.
The tyrant Duterte’s ‘emergency powers’ hastily afforded by his rubber stamp congress can not put a stop to the people’s democratic right to express their opinions, complaints and demands most especially in times of crisis and hunger. The people is very much part of the government because there can be no government without a people. Only a dictator, fascist and tyrant like Duterte can think he is the government, the power, the ruler. In times of crisis, the people’s rights must be upheld. And the people must not allow Duterte to take away these rights.
NDF-Panay fully supports and admires the San Roque and Iloilo residents for bravely calling out their plight and just demands for their survival and livelihood. NDF-Panay also fully supports and encourages other forms resorted to by the people, democratic organizations and groups in other provinces and cities to get government attention to their problems and needs, such as coordinated noise barrage, pickets, streamers, flyers, confetti, as well as memes, videos and graphics in social media and other creative and novel means.
NDF-Panay gives due credit to the LGU officials in the provinces of Panay and Guimaras, the councils and executives of the towns, cities and barangays (except for a few local minions) – who are sincerely and seriously taking the welfare of their constituents to heart. Most of all, we salute the brave and humble doctors, nurses, orderlies, hospital staffs and health workers from the provincial to the barangay level who have set aside self and family concerns for the greater human concern to life.
We congratulate responsible media workers (radio, print, tv and on-line) for disseminating data, information and education needed by the public. Kudos too to the Panayanons who collectively or individually have given some of their time, shared a portion of what is theirs and a bit of themselves to fight the virus and help out those in need in the true genuine bayanihan spirit. This is the true bayanihan healing act, a very sharp contrast to the fascist Duterte ‘bayanihan’ imposition — “we kill as one”.
NDF-Panay calls on sincere and well-meaning members of the LGUs, LGAs and patriotic members of the PNP and AFP to bravely speak out and act for the people and to criticize and defy anti-people and repressive policies and orders from Duterte. A united people can bring down a dictatorship. Duterte, his cronies and generals are not formidable, it is the people who are invincible.