Government’s ‘militarist and punitive’ approach vs COVID-19 hit
MANILA, Philippines — Human rights group Karapatan said Wednesday that the government’s “militarist and punitive” approach in addressing the COVID-19 crisis could worsen the impact of the pandemic.
The group issued the statement following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for the police to be stricter in enforcing quarantine rules, even asking them to jail violators to give them a lesson.
Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said such a government order, along with the house-to-house police search of mild and symptomatic patients and Interior Undersecretary Martin Diño’s “shame campaign” suggestion will only worsen the pandemic’s effects.
“The DILG’s own circus of clowns are only further exposing how their own militarist leadership under Eduardo Año views human rights as disposable in the name of railroading fascistic policies,” Palabay said.
He explained that police officers will only be escorting local government and city health officials during the conduct of “Oplan Kalinga,” which aims to transfer COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms, to government isolation facilities to ensure that they will finish the quarantine period.
Meanwhile, Diño also clarified that he was misquoted on his interview on July 18 explaining that he was not referring to COVID-19 patients.
According to Palabay, the Philippine National Police has arrested thousands of quarantine violators from March 17 to July 19 with 3,059 individuals still remaining in jail.
“Mass arrests disproportionately affect the poor and would only facilitate the spread of highly contagious disease through the country’s cramped and congested detention cells and prisons,” Palabay said.
The progressive group also called out the government for its supposed hypocrisy for passing the blame to the public while “coddling its pasaway allies.”
“If we have to shame anyone here, it’s the government’s own pasaway allies like Debold Sinas, Koko Pimentel, Harry Roque, Mocha Uson, even the pasaway and inutile president himself who still refuses to heed the people’s calls and legitimate demands,” Palabay added.
Palabay further asserted that the government’s tactics do not address the “glaring gaps of government incompetence” towards the COVID-19 response such as mass testing with aggressive contact tracing, the slow distribution of government aid for families affected by the loss of jobs, and worsening poverty and mass hunger amid the lockdowns.
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