Duterte’s martial law threat and extension of the ‘Enhanced Community Quarantine’ without a detailed plan only proves that Duterte has no concrete solution for the COVID-19 crisis. Alleviating the Filipino people’s suffering is not within the wavelength of his tyrannical mind. He is only hellbent on fulfilling his dictatorial ambitions even at the height of a global pandemic and recession. The Duterte regime is itching to exploit this public health crisis to bolster his despotic rule.
The people will never be fooled by Duterte’s attempt to hide his inutility. Just yesterday, 320 OFWs were stranded for ten hours after government agencies like OWWA failed to coordinate properly with local government units. These OFWs have already been exhausted from their long overseas flights but they were subjected further to long-hours of delay and hunger en route to the quarantine facilities in Lian, Batangas. Many more are stranded overseas and their families back home are not even covered by the government’s social amelioration program.
Duterte had wasted four years of his term in his failure to fix our broken healthcare system. There was no attempt at all to increase funding for research, public medical infrastructure, and the salaries of healthcare workers. Instead, he only came up with increasing the rate of Philhealth exactions. Now that OFWs are in dire need of government help as a great number of them are hit by terminations and no-work no-pay arrangements, they only reap disappointment.
DOLE’s announcement of suspension on the processing of cash assistance followed by a retraction hours later is adding insult to injury against troubled OFWs. National Budget Circular No.580 was issued by no other than Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado which halts programs to save on funds. This was made at the back of the government’s rejection of calls for debt service moratorium. The Duterte regime would rather feed money to IMF, World Bank and other imperialist tools of corporate greed than concretely address the needs of the Filipino people. Furthermore, why not go after POGO operations for Php 50 Billion unpaid taxes? Duterte should likewise let go of his discretionary and intelligence funds to help finance public health measures to address COVID-19.
While Duterte is dead set on aggravating the suffering of the people through criminal neglect, China is now taking bolder moves in the West Philippine Sea by creating a new district to take hold of the Spratly Islands. Yet, Duterte has opted to pronounce his gratefulness to President Xi Jinping which was then followed later by completing a cordial phone call with President Trump. All these were interspersed with profanity-laden expletives against common Filipinos in his late-night grumblings on national television.
What’s also absurd is that the Duterte regime is now expecting people to buy into the government’s call for mass relocation back to the provinces while land grabbing, land conversion, destructive mining, the absence of a national minimum wage and the Rice Liberalization Law among others are creating havoc to the hapless lives of the rural masses. President Duterte is even playing deaf to the pleas of residents in Homonhon, Semirara and other parts of the country who have been resisting the non-stop entry of foreign mining ships. Without the imposition of a sound national minimum wage and a genuine land reform program in the provinces, Metro Manila’s congestion is bound to exacerbate in the coming years.
President Duterte himself has been presiding over PNP and AFP to facilitate lawlessness and disorder by inciting uniformed personnel to perpetrate killings and human rights violations against the people. Martial Law will never solve the COVID-29 crisis. It is only meant to silence critics and to gag the troubled Filipino people crying out in their distress and hardships. With mass arrests and mass starvation in store for the next unforeseeable weeks and months, the Duterte regime is proving to be a scourge worse than the COVID-19 pandemic itself.
Tulong hindi kulong!
Bigas hindi dahas!
Solusyong medikal, hindi militar!
Ayuda, hindi diktadura!