Mong Palatino

Blogging about the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific since 2004


@mongster is a Manila-based activist, former Philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of Asia-Pacific affairs.

Published by Bayan Metro Manila

Cpl. Winston Ragos was shot dead by the police at a barangay checkpoint. His case, however, was not listed as a COVID-19 death because he was not infected with the disease.

As of 25 April, the Philippines has almost 500 COVID-19-related fatalities. But the case of Ragos is a reminder that there were people who died not because of the virus but because of the government’s repressive and anti-poor COVID-19 response.

How many have died because of lockdown impositions that prevented people from getting medical care? The government is not counting these deaths. It is liable for using a militarist approach in addressing a public health crisis.

How many are dying from hunger, isolation, and extreme poverty because of the insufficient and delayed distribution of emergency aid to affected populations? We are clueless because authorities are stubbornly focused on arresting so-called pasaway and quarantine violators in urban poor communities.

Six weeks have passed after the lockdown imposition yet relief has not reached more than half of the targeted beneficiaries. This is criminal negligence. Nasaan ang pera ng bayan?

The incoherence in communicating the COVID-19 strategy and the failure of leadership that prevented the spread of the virus at the initial stage of the outbreak has put a heavy burden on health facilities. How many non-COVID-19 patients were not given proper attention or discouraged from seeking medical care because of the overstretched capacity of the health sector?

The lockdown extension spells doom for millions of people who lost jobs and livelihood, and are suffering from various ailments.

Whether modified, soft, or hard, the lockdown is designed to impose rigorous control of the population under the pretext of addressing a public health crisis. Duterte has made no secret his ‘nasty and malevolent’ intention to declare Martial Law.

Instead of rolling out a comprehensive health package, the government enforced draconian directives to silence dissent (whether online, offline, or outside the country). Surveillance and harassment operations targeting activists continue without letup amid the pandemic. Activists distributing relief are redtagged and demonized by the police and Palace propagandists.

The lockdown extension is meant to obfuscate the government’s shortcomings and excesses in resolving the COVID-19 crisis. It is a health disaster exacerbated by corrupt and incompetent leadership, militarist mindset, and anti-poor governance. The government solution is not designed to boost medical measures but the intensification of human rights abuses.

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