Farmers warn PNP vs. abuse of authority, extreme coercive measures in case of lockdown vs COVID 

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today warned the Philippine National Police to refrain from exercising abuse of authority and overkill actions in case of a possible lockdown in Metro Manila. PNP chief Archie Gamboa said the PNP would mobilize 40,000 police elements should there be a need to implement a lockdown. “This is not reassuring at all,” KMP Chairperson Danilo Ramos says. 

The Inter-Agency Task Force presided by health secretary Francisco Duque will recommend the declaration of a Code Red Sub Level 2 situation for approval by President Duterte. A Code Red Level 2 declaration would include the following guidelines: no mass gatherings, work suspension and extension of suspension of classes. Other specific recommendations that are still being worked out include the possible extension of school/classes suspension for additional 4 weeks; strict implementation of no mass gatherings, specific and localized strict lockdown by LGUs, skeletal workforce in public and private offices with work from home options, and a possible lockdown of the National Capital Region. The task force said the proposals are being considered to contain the spread of the virus to the level of community transmission.” 

“We are blaming the Duterte government’s prolonged complacency on this matter. We will not accept militarist measures violating the democratic rights of the people disguised as steps against COVID-19,” says KMP Chairperson Danilo Ramos, “Had the government took a more advanced and comprehensive approach to the COVID-19 outbreak earlier, then extreme and coercive measures wouldn’t be necessary.” 

Ramos points out that South Korea managed to decrease its daily infection rate without citywide lockdowns like in China and Italy. South Korea implemented free mass testings, improved public information and communication, and used advanced technology which did up to 15,000 diagnostic tests per day. Ramos asks, “how can we do that in the Philippines if the President doesn’t even realize the importance of the COVID-19 testing kit?” 

The peasant leader ends by warning that the PNP might unnecessarily and arbitrarily activate checkpoints, population mobility controls, intrusive surveys in the guise of health census and monitoring, and mobilization of LGUs and local barangay patrols for zoning operations. “These scenarios are possible especially since the people in charge of frontline civilian agencies like the DSWD, NAPC, DILG, and even Philhealth are all former military generals. We reiterate our position that no scope or duration of any lockdown can fully address the COVID-19 problem without a timely and comprehensive public healthcare framework.” #