Lawmakers frown on Army reservists’ deployment to Mandaluyong
MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc have slammed the government’s supposed militarization of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Army reservists were deployed to Mandaluyong City to enforce the heightened lockdown.
Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said on Friday that this move — coupled with President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement for a possible martial law-like rule — shows a militarist mindset rather than a medical one.
“Ito ay isang lowkey de facto Martial Law na kahit hindi pa niya aminin na magdedeklara siya ay ginagawa na nya,” Cullamat said. “Tapos ngayon ay magdedeploy pa ng army reservists sa Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City. Ang makakasolusyon sa pagkalat ng COVID-19 ay ang mass testing at aggressive contact tracing, tapos ang plasma o vaccine sa susunod.”
(This is a low-key, de facto martial law even if he does not admit and declare it, he is already doing so. Now, Army reservists are being deployed to Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City. The solution to the spread of COVID-19 is mass testing and aggressive contract tracing, then the plasma technique or the vaccine.)
“The Duterte administration continues to impose military solutions in a health crisis. Men in uniform will not make the COVID-19 virus back away. The rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases will only be curbed if communities with the rising number of cases have adequate testing areas, isolation centers and treatment facilities like barangay or district health centers,” Castro added.
Instead, Castro said that contract tracing teams and not just military personnel should be deployed to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Earlier, reports came out that members of the Army Reserve Command (ARESCOM) will be deployed to Barangay Addition Hills to ensure that people would follow the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) guidelines on staying at home, travel restrictions, and social distancing.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) meanwhile said that it sees nothing wrong with the deployment of military reservists, as long as no abuses are committed by the uniformed personnel.
“As long as no abuses are committed and the reason is to enforce more strictly the ECQ to flatten the curve, it’s okay,” CHR told INQUIRER.net in a text message.
However, Castro noted that people would stay at home if enough social aid would be provided, especially those in impoverished sectors.
“Kung gusto ng administrasyong Duterte na manatili sa mga loob ng bahay ang kaniyang mga mamamayan, bibigyan niya ng sapat na pagkain at iba pang mga esensyal na gamit ang mga pamiliya para hindi na nila kailangan lumabas,” she said.
(If the Duterte administration wants people to stay at home, he has to provide families enough food and other essential items so that they do not have to leave their houses.)
With the ECQ over Luzon and other areas, work and transportation have been stopped except for those in frontline services like hospitals and food chains. This has left workers who rely on daily earnings and whose jobs cannot adopt a work-from-home scheme without income through the lockdown.
In response to this, the government has implemented a social amelioration program, where at least 18 million families would receive financial aid around P5,000 to P8,000.
However, despite the ECQ, there have been numerous reports of quarantine violations and crowding in markets and roads. Worse, several incidents of crowding involved cockfighting, drinking sprees, and other forms of entertainment.
As of now, the Department of Health said that there are now 5,878 COVID-19 cases — 387 of which have died while at least 487 recovered from the disease.
Worldwide, over 2.15 million individuals have been infected, while 145,054 have died from the disease and 537,663 have recovered from it.
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