Medical Solutions, NOT Militarization!

Statement of ANAKBAYAN Canada on the Duterte regime’s fascist response to the COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines.

For immediate release | For inquiries, contact Nicole Sudiacal, ANAKBAYAN Canada Co-Chair

ANAKBAYAN Canada opposes Duterte’s unnecessary declaration of militarization and lockdown of the National Capital Region in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Metro Manila will be placed in a “community quarantine” for 30 days beginning midnight March 15, 2020, up until the midnight of April 14, 2020. This is a hasty and repressive action after a sluggish response for public health and safety since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 more than a month ago.  

We call for a pro-people response to address the immediate and long-term needs of the toiling and exploited Filipino masses, from the free distribution of medical supplies to a comprehensive and progressive social policy guaranteeing genuine services such as healthcare. 

Migrant and Diasporic Youth Resist

Just as in the Philippines, in Canada those who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and whose lives are most disrupted by state measures to “contain” the pandemic are the poor. The first to feel the effects will always be the Indigenous peoples, many living on Canada’s colonial reserve system with lead in their water pipes; the migrants forced here from overseas, due to poverty and joblessness back home; and those homeless and underhoused for whom quarantine is either impossible or means isolation in inadequate living conditions with no community supports and no access to the health, medical, and harm reduction supplies they need.

As Filipino migrant youth, we draw this connection at every opportunity. We know that the suffering of our people abroad, like here in Canada, is rooted in their suffering in the Philippines. Our social health here in Canada is inextricably tied with the ability for the Philippine people to be self-reliant and healthy in their homeland.

Duterte’s Anti-People Solution

The fascist Duterte regime once again believes that the solution to a global threat is to point guns and threaten violence and control against the people, which mirrors his tactics around his bloody war on drugs. Duterte cut the Department of Health’s budget by P10 Billion and instead allocated funds to law and military enforcement. Now, Duterte is ready to deploy 40,000 police officers upon Manila once the lockdown is imposed. 

Duterte has thanked his own cronies like Bong Go and has neglected to highlight the risk and bravery of the frontline healthcare providers who are on the ground treating patients, putting their lives at risk, as well as the Filipino scientists who have developed affordable testing kits for the people. 

This lockdown measure is anti-poor and anti-people, as working-class and struggling Filipinos will be most threatened by wage loss and concerns around getting food and supplies during the quarantine period. The working class is also most at risk of getting exposed and infected with COVID-19, compared to crony capitalists and landlords, because of the lack of access to healthcare due to financial restraints, and the working class’s exposure to public spaces and public transportation on a daily basis. 

The public’s anxiety around Duterte’s next steps after the lockdown should be highlighted. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have a violent history with the people. The emphasis on focusing national resources on military forces as opposed to health workers as the frontline fighters of the global epidemic have made the masses question the authenticity and the motives of the president. For Duterte to urge his people to stand down and obey for “peace and order” is reminiscent of the fascist practices of the dictator Marcos under Martial Law. As Filipino youth and students, we strongly condemn the use of violence and repression against the people in the guise of public health and safety. 

All Eyes on Duterte

We will monitor the situation in the homeland closely, spread awareness of Duterte’s fascist actions against the people, and fight back against the misinformation from his cronies and his supporters. We demand that the government of the Philippines give free mass testing including the free distribution of testing kits, face masks, disinfectants, and sanitation supplies to the public; free and truly universal healthcare, proper aid during the lockdown especially for the urban poor, contractual workers, housing for the poor, genuine land reform for the landlessness, and economic reform. 

The pandemic of COVID-19 has highlighted the failures of the three basic problems that plague the Philippines—imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. ANAKBAYAN Canada recognizes that the militarization and lockdown of the National Capital Region is not the proper response to this global health issue.

The real solution for the people is not, and should not, be the military that serves the interests of the foreign and local elites. For Filipino youth and students abroad in Canada, the real solution is to understand the plight of Filipino masses and to support Anakbayan and other progressive organizations of the people in their fight for national and social liberation.

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