The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) slams the continuing nonchalance of the Duterte government as the Department of Health (DOH) announced yesterday the first confirmed nCov case in the country. The group said the government failed to adequately inform and prepare the people regarding the virus for which the WHO recently declared an international health emergency. Before the WHO announcement, the government had a very passive “let us wait and see” attitude towards the threats posed by the nCov. This is despite the fact that the absence of a confirmed case in the country was merely because of our own incapacity to do so. Health officials had to import necessary tools and send samples abroad, prolonging the supposedly days-long confirmation time to a week.
“A general, unified, and comprehensive framework in addressing the threat is seemingly absent,” says Danilo Ramos, chairperson of KMP as he noted that most government communications are mere advice for individuals. “No amount of words and promises, especially from a government which have repeatedly backtracked on its own key commitments, can genuinely calm the people down — only a competent, timely, and adequate response can.”
“In the absence of a wide-scale and centralized effort to curb vulnerabilities against the virus, the public was virtually left on their own. Many concerned citizens and groups for example have early on pushed for various degrees of entry or suspension bans against China and other heavily infected countries, an action that other governments have actually implemented. Duterte’s decision today to approve a travel ban to and from Hubei province, the origin of the virus, is far too late. Worse is the scheduling for next week of an already behind crucial meeting of government officials. The NEDA on the other hand has downplayed, without detailed exposition, the economic damage the epidemic has on the country’s economy, as international analysts warn of dips in productivity and investments,” Ramos said.
The group said the Duterte administration evidently does not see the nCov from the point of view of ordinary Filipinos. Millions of Filipinos have no choice but to daily squeeze themselves in overflowing public vehicles and trains, have no benefit of paid leaves, cannot afford basic health services, and have no access to reliable and timely information — the situation is worse for the rural and urban poor. Reminders to stay calm and maintain personal hygiene are grossly insufficient.
“At the back of all this is the chronic neglect of the country’s public health infrastructure. Despite the drastic shortage of medical personnel and inaccessible health facilities nationwide, the 2020 health budget was even slashed by Php10 billion. As long as the country’s public health system remains grossly neglected, the Filipino people will continue to be severely vulnerable, no matter how benign or serious new diseases can be,” Ramos concluded. #
(Featured image from NNARA-Youth)