Farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) joined in contesting the proposed declaration of a “national state of emergency” which is set to hand President Rodrigo Duterte sweeping authoritarian emergency powers. KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos says that “in the first week of the Luzon-wide lockdown, the Duterte regime has been increasingly revealed to be insensitive of the plight of the poor, incompetent in leading the nation, and outrightly self-serving. This latest attempt at acquiring even more power in the guise of tackling COVID-19 is nothing but Duterte and his minions absolutely immoral taking advantage of a pandemic. They are cashing in on the suffering of the Filipino people.”
The Senate and Congress are set to hold a joint session today to tackle a proposed bill which will put the entire nation under a state of “national emergency,” as opposed to Health Secretary Duque’s declaration of a state of “public health emergency” last March 9. The proposed emergency powers will reportedly give President Duterte the powers to take over private businesses, exempt procurement from rules, control and make road blockades, and realign budget and funds.
“These proposals are completely unnecessary in facing the COVID-19 pandemic. What the people need are the correct and timely allocation of sufficient funds for healthcare measures such as building the capacity to conduct free mass testing and providing much-needed socio-economic relief for the people,” Ramos insists. The peasant leader further points out that there are already tens of billions worth of funds available to the President and related national government agencies which can quickly be utilized for the health crisis, such as the Php12 billion President’s Contingency Fund, the Php16 billion Calamity Fund, and the Php6.8 billion Quick Response Fund of national agencies.
Ramos says that “given the “track record” of the Duterte regime in abusing authority at the cost of the people’s democratic rights and in coddling cronies both new and old, we fear that the proposed emergency powers will only worsen the failures of the national government in facing COVID-19 and aggravate the risks and suffering already faced by the Filipino people especially the health workers on the frontline: all for the sole benefit of Duterte’s closest political and business allies and VIPs.”
“The Duterte regime appears to be completely cut-off from the grim realities faced by Filipinos at this period. Each day, Duterte’s governance worsens and he is becoming ever more isolated from the people. We remind him that the Filipino people, which catapulted him into popularity and power in 2016, are capable of dragging him down anytime,” Ramos ends. #