Bayan decries Duterte’s political maneuvers amid the pandemic crisis
MANILA, Philippines — Activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has decried President Rodrigo Duterte’s politicking amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, the country needs more cash aid and a faster vaccine rollout – not political games.
So far, vaccination figures have not surpassed 750,000, while workers affected by the lockdown have yet to receive P1,000 in social assistance.
“Nasa gitna ng malalang pandemya, tumataas ang kaso ng COVID at bilang ng mamamatay. Lagpas 20% na ang daily positivity rate. Wala pa ring ayudang napapamahagi. Hikahos ang ekonomiya. Tapos ang pangulo, napaka-petty,” Reyes said.
(We’re in the middle of a big pandemic, COVID-19 cases and deaths are rising. The positivity rate is way past 20 percent. There is no cash aid distributed. The economy is in shambles. Then your President is petty.)
“Ang kailangan natin ay ayuda at bakuna, hindi pamumulitika sa panahon ng pandemya,” he added.
(What we need now is cash aid and sufficient vaccines, not politicking during a time of a pandemic.)
Reyes referred to Duterte’s threat during his late Monday night briefing to strip a Metro Manila official’s authority to distribute the cash aid for enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status.
The official whom Duterte did not name explicitly is thought by many as Manila Mayor Isko Moreno – who has recently clashed with the administration.
According to Duterte, he is mulling the removal of powers because the unnamed local government unit (LGU) and the local executive could not organize its vaccination program.
“There’s one city here where I ordered the DILG and the DSWD to take over the distribution of cash aid and other assistance from the national government to the LGU that does not know how to organize its distribution,” Duterte said in Filipino.
“It only results in disorder. So I took it [the responsibility] away from them [city officials] and gave it to the DILG and DSWD. You take over until they learn. This mayor knows nothing at all,” he added.
But on Tuesday morning, Moreno showed copies of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) certificates and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), especially mentioning that the city had efficiently distributed cash aid during previous lockdowns.
In recent days, the two have engaged in a verbal war, although neither has directed a single accusation directly at the other. In his State of the Nation Address, Duterte lambasted an LGU for its neglect of the citizens’ needs because people were forced to endure floods and rain just to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Manila mayor clapped back by saying that, although it can be difficult to endure rains and floods, the end result — getting protected from the pandemic — is of greater importance these days.
Moreno criticized the government’s handling of the pandemic in late July, warning that COVID-19 Delta variants may trigger another surge and lockdown. The effects of this became evident after Metro Manila and other places were placed under a community quarantine due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
Then last Thursday, crowds swelled at Manila’s vaccination sites, with Moreno blaming authorities who started discussions and threats about not letting unvaccinated people go out of their homes. Duterte may have been referring to this incident when he said an LGU could not organize vaccination drives.
Yet Moreno firmly attributed the vaccination panic to President Duterte, sharing a clip from the president when asked why there was such an increase in crowds.
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