Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004

About

@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

To protest from our homes is justified amid the glaring negligence of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

The leadership of the Philippine National Police should listen to the valid demands of residents who are suffering under the enhanced community quarantine. It should respect the people’s right to express grievance over the slow response and inadequate assistance by the national government.

On 22 March 2020, Kadamay Metro Manila and other people’s organizations in Metro Manila organized a #ProtestFromHome campaign to press their urgent demands such as free mass testing, food assistance, and the lifting of repressive lockdown restrictions. The campaign gathered popular support and the hashtag became the top trending topic on Twitter.

Instead of acknowledging the daily hardships that inspired many to join the virtual rally, a PNP Facebook page chose to malign Kadamay by accusing the urban poor group of being unpatriotic, violent, and divisive.

The PNP was wrong to condemn Kadamay members who merely exercised their constitutionally guaranteed right to free expression. It was a peaceful and creative show of dissent organized inside houses which rallied the public to share their own frustration over the government’s failure to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Social media users merely voiced out their conditions under lockdown but the police responded by demonizing the online action. It depicted Kadamay as a criminal group aiming to sow disruption and it even illegally posted photos of social media users who used the protest hashtag.

The irresponsible Facebook post of PNP reveals its intolerance and diabolical intent to silence critics of the Duterte government. It joins the president’s other apologists in trying to evade blame for the COVID-19 crisis by pointing an accusing finger at activists and those who are exposing the incompetence of authorities.

It confirms our earlier assertion that the decision to rely on the police and the military in enforcing measures aimed at containing the virus was really intended to prevent people from showing defiance.

It makes the recent passage of the law giving extra powers to the president a terrifying development. If an online protest organized inside houses quickly provoked the PNP to sow hatred against activists, we fear that the police will be more aggressive in attacking critics by charging the latter of spreading ‘false information’ under the new law.

The PNP is wrong if it thinks its terror and trolling tactics will scare us and discourage us from speaking truth to power. On the contrary, we are set to join another online protest this Wednesday, 25 March, as we continue to push for mass testing, food aid, and a comprehensive response to the COVID-19 crisis.

We advise the PNP to redirect its rage to VIP politicians who immediately got tested for COVID-19 at the expense of genuine frontliners instead of harassing internet users and activist groups.

We ask all freedom-loving Filipinos to resist the PNP’s muzzling of free speech. We call on all those who are angered by the government’s incompetence to join the Kalampagan by posting their specific demands on social media. The fight against COVID-19 will succeed if we will push for better governance. There is hope if we will fight as one.

Published by Bayan Metro Manila

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