In February, while the Duterte regime had allowed the entry into the country of hundreds of thousands of Chinese tourists, including those from Wuhan, and ignored the grave implication of the death of the first victim in the Philippines, the revolutionary forces have been closely monitoring developments in the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
As the virus started to wreak havoc in China and began to spread outside China’s borders, immediately the revolutionary movement through its National Health Bureau has been busy organizing and mobilizing revolutionary health committees from the national down to the village levels to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in their areas, and check on the people’s health.
While the Duterte regime was ignoring the warning signs, the CPP has already directed NPA Red fighters to step up efforts to render social, economic, medical and public health services to the people, and coordinate with the people’s democratic government (PDG), which is based on revolutionary village committees and the mass organizations in the guerrilla zones and in factories and communities, to undertake a collective response to the infection by launching campaigns on sanitation and community cleanup drives.
As the virus further spread, the Duterte regime engaged in misinformation, withholding the real number of infected persons and ignored the virus’ mode of transmission. In fact days before imposing an “enhanced community quarantine” – its euphemism for lockdown and military hamletting of communities – the Duterte regime has continued to allow the entry into the country of potential virus carriers, mainly Chinese from mainland China, and the unhindered operation of the so-called Philippine Online Gaming Operations (POGOs), which are run by Chinese nationals from mainland China, because they provide largesse for Duterte’s corrupt bureaucracy.
A day after imposing “enhanced community quarantines” in the National Capital Region, the Duterte regime called for a ceasefire with the NDFP and the revolutionary organizations that it represents, oblivious of the fact that on the ground the revolutionary movement led by the CPP and all allied organizations under the NDFP have already been mobilized, amidst continued military attacks, to complement efforts of people’s organizations and humanitarian organizations and concerned entities to gather the broadest possible solidarity and support to produce and deliver urgent medical services and supplies such as face masks, alcohol, testing kits and respiratory medicines that people need, especially the most vulnerable – the poor peasants, the factory workers, urban poor residents, the jobless and the homeless.
The Duterte regime talks about the resumption of the peace talks to continue and finish the agreement on social and economic reforms, which it has deliberately stalled several times, even as its reactionary military, police and fascist officials continue to engage in state terrorism, carrying out prolonged military operations to intimidate communities, indiscriminately bombing communities in Bukidnon and Compostela Valley, as well as red tagging, harassing, abducting and murdering social activists, peace advocates, human rights defenders and other people, including abetting threats against the NDFP chief political consultant, and the recent brutal murder of cultural worker Marlon Maldos in Bohol.
And last March 13, Duterte’s military and police carried out the treacherous and cowardly assassination of Comrades Julius Giron, Dr. Ma. Lourdes Denero Tangco and Arvie Alarcon Reyes in Baguio City. Comrade Giron was an exemplary CPP leader who was long involved in the peace talks as an NDFP consultant on social, economic and political reforms, while Tangco was a medical doctor and head of the CPP’s National Health Bureau, which led and mobilized the revolutionary health committees to take urgent measures to respond to the epidemic.
Duterte’s call on the NDFP to declare a unilateral ceasefire is an empty gesture, a psywar maneuver to cover its criminal neglect in ignoring the grave medical crisis that the coronavirus is inflicting on the people.
The NDFP Peace Panel is also strongly concerned about the health of political prisoners, particularly the elderly and sick among them who are in danger of contracting the infection. It supports the call for the release of all political prisoners by their relatives, human rights defenders and church groups. The Duterte regime should heed the example of Iran and Canada in releasing prisoners, including those charged with political offenses, on humanitarian and health considerations in response to the threat of the virus spreading in prison.
Duterte and his fascist minions should stop manipulating the Covid-19 emergency in the Philippines to push their militarist and anti-people agenda and shortcut their fascist dream to govern the country martial law-style.###