[More uncertainties with declaration of Luzon-wide total lockdown] No clear and assured socio-economic support for millions of Filipinos

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today said the declaration of total lockdown or enhanced community quarantine covering the entire Luzon island brought more uncertainties than solutions to the ongoing crisis brought by the COVID19 pandemic. “Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo evan had the gall to tell the public that one month of not eating won’t kill them.”

Two days after the enforcement of quarantine across Metro Manila, Malacanang escalated the order to a full total lockdowon of the entire Luzon as part of efforts to stop the spread of corona virus. As of March 16, the DOH said there are 142 confirmed cases of COVID19, mostly from Metro Manila. The 12 deaths out of the aforementioned COVID19 cases registered a record-high 8.6 percent death rate.  

“President Duterte conveniently passed the obligation and responsibilities to local government units and the private sector to enforce emergency actions and find solutions to address the basic problems of health care, food supply, income and economic support to more than 50 million population in Luzon. Duterte’s recorded public address last night was not reassuring at all. He kept on rambling and mumbling nonsense. He even upped his acting by visiting the Valenzuela-Meycauyan border early this morning where hundreds remain stranded.

“The Duterte administration is further exposing itself as incompetent and self-serving. While Duterte and his ilk — high-ranking government officials and Cabinet members and their families are seemingly unaffected by this crisis, the poor and downtrodden were left to fend for themselves and survive this pandemic,” says Danilo Ramos, KMP chairperson.

KMP reiterated its proposals for the urgent response to COVID19 which includes free mass testing, free check-ups, socio-economic relief package and community-based health services. “The Php3.1-billion budget for testing kits should be immediately used to launch a community-based free mass testings and screenings immediately, prioritizing highly vulnerable individuals and communities. The Php14-billion budget for tourism programs should be rechanneled to actual COVID19 prevention efforts,” Ramos said.

The KMP leader said the government and the private sector must also provide and economic package to workers, employees and laborers affected by the total lockdown and work stoppage in the retail, construction and other vital industries. “We have yet to witness and bear the full social and economic impact of COVID19. The government’s belated and lacking action on the pandemic is expected to worsen nationwide unemployment, poverty and hunger,” Ramos said.  

The peasant group reiterated its 10-point proposal for COVID19 response and prevention:

  1. Provide free mass testings and screenings immediately, prioritizing highly vulnerable individuals and communities.
  2. Rechannel P4.5B discretionary and intelligence funds for COVID-19 response.
  3. Hire and capacitate more doctors, nurses, other health workers, and mobilize socio-civic organizations and trained volunteers for COVID-19 response in hospitals and communities.
  4. Mobilize barangay health centers and setup satellite health centers for massive information dissemination, free screening, health evaluation and monitoring, and for the distribution of free hygiene and protective kits (face masks, soap, alcohol, etc.).
  5. Hold community-based health actions in all levels such as mass disinfection and sanitation, cleanup drives, information drives, etc.
  6. Prioritize public health in the allocation of budgets and other resources at all levels to address the needs of the most vulnerable.
  7. Ensure the health and welfare especially of frontline health workers.
  8. Provide socio-economic support and subsidies for affected workers and employees, underemployed, and the poor.
  9. Ensure that basic commodities such as rice, food, medicines, etc., are accessible and affordable. Ensure the continuing service or rationing of water.
  10. Operate on a “social solidarity” framework ensuring the welfare of every citizen. Refrain from abusing coercive and restrictive measures against citizens. ###

(Featured image from Pinoy Weekly)

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