By Jose Maria Sison, NDFP Chief Political Consultant
The NDFP does not trust Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire declaration of the Duterte regime and cannot instantly reciprocate it. It is obviously a malicious ploy of psychological warfare and is intended to cover up the continuing offensive operations of the AFP and PNP against the people and revolutionary forces in the guerrilla fronts of the people’s democratic government and against the legal democratic forces and individuals considered as enemies of the regime in the urban areas.
The offensive operations of the AFP and PNP are continuing without any stop and include red-tagging, abductions and extrajudicial killings, compelling people to attend fake surrender meetings, staging fake encounters that kill and victimize ordinary peasants, bombing rural communities in certain regions and forcing the evacuation of the poor peasants and indigenous people and delivering the land and other natural resources to foreign and big comprador corporations.
Duterte has referred to Covid-19 as his motivation for declaring his bogus and malicious unilateral ceasefire but he is in fact criminally responsible for the following:
1. He let into the Philippines more than 500,000 travellers from China, including more than 14,000 from Wuhan, since January while the Covid-19 contagion was raging in China. As a result, Covid-19 has spread nationwide for more than two months.
2. He slashed the budget for the Department of Health by more than Php 10 billion in order to favor military overspending and corruption in his own office and other departments. And he made no efforts to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus despite the strong admonitions of international health authorities and experts.
3. In his belated reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, he has prioritized the setting up of military and police checkpoints in the national capital region and then in the whole of Luzon and the imposition of a lockdown by banning public transport and intimidating the people. He has thereby prevented the people from going to their places of work and even those in need of testing and treatment for Covid-19 and other illnesses from going to health centers, clinics and hospitals.
4. Until now, there are no provisions for free mass testing for Covid-19 at the community level and for treatment of people already afflicted by the virus at the public hospitals. The hospitals under the DOH have grossly inadequate health personnel, bed space, facilities, equipment, disinfectants and medicine for the rapidly growing number of Covid-19 patients. There are yet no hospitals dedicated to the testing and treatment of said patients.
5. Having become nationwide and communicable in communities, the Covid-19 plague has gone far beyond the stage of containment, thanks to the criminal negligence and incompetence of the Duterte regime. But the regime stubbornly insists on lockdowns, banning public transport, depriving the people of their means of livelihood and preventing even the sick from getting the necessary medical treatment.
6. Despite the clamor of the people, the NDFP and human rights advocates, Duterte refuses to release promptly the political prisoners and other prisoners who are vulnerable to mass infection by Covid-19 under the congested conditions of prison. Instead, the armed minions of Duterte have been rapidly increasing the number of prisoners through arbitrary arrests and planting of evidence.
7. Duterte has promised to provide food and compensation for those who are prevented by the lockdowns from going to work. He has also promised to provide the health personnel and resources for the free mass testing and treatment of people for Covid-19. But the promises have proven to be lies.
On their own account and to their credit, the health workers, the private hospitals, mass organizations, churches, charitable institutions and other nongovernmental entities have been the most active in looking after the health and welfare of the people, especially the impoverished ones, assisting them and fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and overcoming the harsh militarist impositions and damaging actions of the anti-people Duterte regime.
In the guerrilla fronts of the people’s democratic government, the organs and units in charge of health work are based in the local communities and are embedded in the New People’s Army and the revolutionary mass organizations. They are in the frontline fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. They provide to the people testing and treatment for this as well as other illnesses, despite the frequent offensive operations of the enemy.
In view of the foregoing, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines is constrained from reciprocating the ill-motivated and ill-founded unilateral ceasefire declaration of the Duterte regime. With or without NDFP reciprocation, the Duterte regime should at least recognize its criminal responsibilities for the entry, spread and aggravation of the Covid-19 plague in the Philippines and rectify immediately the wrongs and crimes it has committed against the people.
While the Duterte regime acts in the extreme against the Filipino people, the NDFP refrains from any action which would be construed as condoning and covering up the criminal acts and responsibilities of the regime and would run counter to the mounting outrage of the people and the rapid growth of the broad united front of patriotic and democratic forces now seeking the soonest possible end of the traitorous, tyrannical, genocidal, corrupt and deceptive regime.###