The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) stands by the thousands of health workers in the face of Duterte’s senseless tirades against them. In his address, Duterte revealed himself a paranoid when he claimed he hears call for “revolution” amid the cries of the health workers for immediate relief over the worsening pandemic. Again he issued threats of using martial law powers to silence them and ridiculed nurses to just join the police if they want to receive higher wages.
The Party denounces Duterte’s petulant response to the collective plea of health workers. They do not deserve Duterte’s threats and insults. In the face of health workers’ appeals, Duterte declared to remand Metro Manila and adjacent provinces to two weeks of more stringent restrictions and police control, but again failed to put into place urgently needed measures to qualitatively ramp up the capacity of the health system, provide free Covid-19 treatment, overhaul the poor system of data collection, conduct free mass testing and aggressive contact tracing in order to stay ahead and effectively manage the growing pandemic. Duterte did not announce the distribution of additional subsidies for people who will again be forced to stay at home in the next two weeks.
The Party stands by the tens of thousands of doctors, nurses and health workers who have been working overtime in the past five months to treat and care for the rapidly growing number of Covid-19 patients in the country. They suffer from overwork and lack of protective equipment. A disproportionate number of nurses and doctors have died, and many are falling ill and are being treated for the disease because of ill working conditions at hospitals. They are grossly underpaid and are not sufficiently compensated for the risks they take, as well as for the expenses they incur when they themselves are hospitalized when they contract the disease. Public hospitals are understaffed and efforts to employ enough new nurses are insufficient.
Statements released over the weekend by the Philippine Medical Association, as well as by other doctor’s groups who posed a second opinion calling for urgent comprehensive reforms, have expressed the sentiments of health workers. It is a cry for relief. It is a testament to the failure of the Duterte regime’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Among others, they called for a change in the orientation and leadership of the regime’s pandemic response and called for more medical and public health experts to take the helm from former military generals whose obsession with population control and restrictions have proved a big failure. They also called for the recruitment of new nurses, provision of quality medical PPE, higher salaries, distribution of free face masks to the public, improvements in the diseease monitoring and reporting system, ramped up mass testing and contact tracing and other urgent public health measures.
The call for drastic measures by the health workers and medical professionals was issued as the cases of Covid-19 infections in the country surpassed 100,000, more than twice the number compared to a month ago. The sentiments of health workers revealed the real pandemic situation and indirectly exposed the lies and false assurances of Malacañang and Duterte’s health officials. Duterte’s officials have not provided and could not offer the people any explanation how Covid-19 infections are spreading except to blame people for not wearing masks.
While police arrest people en masse in the streets, even for the flimsiest and idiotic reasons, it has allowed capitalists to operate their factories and firms without government health regulation and left it to owners to follow health standards. The bungling of travel restrictions and transportation of people desperate to leave Metro Manila and go home to their provinces has resulted in large crowds congregating in ports and stadiums, serving as a major vector for disease transmission and cause of spread of infections across the country.
The Party calls on the Filipino people to support the health workers and professionals in their demand for a more medical and scientific solution to the pandemic and an end to the militarist and police-centric approach of the Duterte regime.
The Duterte regime is covering up its failures by claiming that only a vaccine can help the country overcome the pandemic. It is falsely assuring the people that a vaccine is just around the corner and that he has been made verbal arrangements with China President Xi Jinping to give the country access to the vaccines, most likely to be facilitated with further foreign borrowings and financial benefits for Duterte.
Experts in the pharmaceutical industry, however, optimistically estimate that production of a thoroughly tested and effective vaccine will start not before late 2021 or early 2022. Until then, the Duterte regime will continue to treat the pandemic as an extraordinary opportunity to exercise population control and other fascist measures and resort to using state terrorism whenever people cry, criticize, plea, denounce or express indignation over the regime’s bungling pandemic response.
The Filipino people need not wait for a vaccine. Nor must they suffer two more years of the inept and power-obsessed Duterte regime. They must act now and demand Duterte’s resignation for his refusal to listen and act on the people’s demands. Only Duterte’s resignation or ouster can give the Filipino people a better chance at overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic.