Farmers to IATF: Stop militarizing COVID response
‘Oplan Kalinga’ or the national government’s plan to deploy police officers and local government officials to conduct house-to-house activities to search for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms and transfer them to a centralized isolation facility doesn’t sit well with farmers as this strategy could further sow fear in communities. “Stop giving the police too much undue power. It is easy for the police to abuse their authority. Our grim experience with Oplan Tokhang tells us that this approach will result in more harm and damage than solution to the rising COVID-19 cases,” says Danilo Ramos, chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
Department of Interior and Local Government secretary Eduardo Año said in yesterday’s online press briefing: “Ang gagawin natin, sa tulong ng ating LGUs at Philippine National Police ay iba-bahay-bahay po natin ‘yan at dadalhin natin ang ating mga positive sa ating COVID-19 facilities.”
“All the IATF can think of are militarist solutions to the pandemic. That is the problem with military men and ex-Generals sitting in the government. Their military mindset is getting in the way of more effective and pro-people solutions to the health crisis,” the KMP leader said. “Virus ang kalaban pero armado at abusadong pulis ang ihaharap. Anong gagawin ng pulis sa pasyente? Tatakutin at babarilin kagaya ng ginawa nila sa mga biktima ng Oplan Tokhang?
“At this point, the public must also be wary of the police as they could be the ones spreading the virus to vulnerable communities and households,” Ramos added as he cited the alarming spike of COVID-19 cases among PNP forces.
Ramos said instead of directing the police for house-to-house visits, LGUs must strengthen and reinforce their Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERT). “BHERT units, in coordination with the Department of Health, must be reinforced and capacitated to find, test, treat and isolate COVID-19 patients,” the peasant leader concluded. ###