Duterte’s announcement of extended lockdown lacks report on aid delivery, comprehensive health response

President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement extending the enhanced community quarantine in the National Capital Region, CALABARZON and other key provinces, and maintaining a general community quarantine in most areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao is already expected.

What’s obviously lacking from the President’s profanity-laced speech is a coherent report of actual delivery of socio-economic aid and services to the lockdown-affected population. He also failed to present the government’s comprehensive medical and health plan on how to flatten the constantly rising curve of the COVID pandemic.

Instead of humbly admitting the government’s extremely slow and lacking support, President Duterte again went on a full rampage of profanity and BS. He is conveniently using the Left, and the New People’s Army as scapegoats to the government’s failing response to the pandemic. Like a broken record, Duterte again threatened to impose Martial Law and kill more people. The President did not answer the main questions raised by millions of Filipinos: Nasaan ang ayuda? Nasaan ang tulong ng gobyerno para sa mga nangangailangan? Ano ang plano para sa mass testing at pagpapagamot sa mga nagkasakit ng COVID? We did not hear any answers to more pressing issues at hand.

Senator Bong Go is encouraging Balik Probinsya program. Ibalik muna ni Senator Cynthia Villar yung mga lupang sakahan na inagaw at ginawa nilang subdivisions. To encourage the city population to go back to the provinces to start over would be just a far-fetched, fantastical dream without the necessary steps to ‘reverse the current situation.’

The agriculture sector is among the worst hit of the economic crisis, registering over a million of job losses each year. The situation in rural areas are just as worst as in the cities — poverty, hunger, and repression prevails in the countryside and provinces.

The Department of Agriculture’s response is also far from satisfactory. Farmers maintain our extreme disappointment. Only 3.6% of the country’s 9.7 million farmers, farm workers, and fisherfolk families needing urgent assistance have received very little aid so far. The DA could only do so much as try, but even at that, they are failing.

The current situation and economic crisis worsened by the COVID pandemic further underscores the need for a genuine land reform, rural development, and national industrialization. To do these, the government must have the political will and hindsight to develop the countryside, build Filipino industries, protect the environment, uphold people’s rights and welfare, and finance genuine  development. Primary in these efforts would be the strengthening of the domestic agriculture and Filipino industries. ###

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