Unrest in the time of #COVID19PH

"People are angry for many reasons."


The almost three weeks of the Metro Manila lockdown due to #COVID19PH has revealed how incompetent, insensitive, non-responsive, and irrelevant this government is in meeting the demands of addressing people’s needs in times of crisis.

Metro Manila has been locked down since March 15. Despite Congress’ immediate approval of Republic Act No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One” law granting President Duterte the emergency powers he sought to address the pandemic, and all the talk about the hundreds of billions of pesos that will be released to millions of poor Filipino families needing assistance, NOTHING substantial has been received by families who are now going hungry because of loss of livelihood owing to the lockdown.

No wonder, there is widespread discontent and restiveness among the Filipino people, rich and poor. People are angry for many reasons.

COVID-19 has shown the ineptitude, slowness, and incapacity of our Department of Health (DOH), particularly its leadership to deal with a health crisis. People are unable to forgive Health Secretary Duque for dilly-dallying in terms of preparing for this virus. If only DOH acted promptly and strategically, the country could be in a better position now.

People are very angry at DOH for violating its own protocols on testing for the virus and giving priority to politicians and their families in terms of testing for the virus even if they do not exhibit symptoms. Many ordinary Filipinos who exhibited symptoms were refused testing and hospitalization in the name of DOH protocols, while the same precious testing kits were used for those who hold government posts.

This unequal treatment has resulted in people dying without even knowing if they caught COVID-19.

People were and are livid at Sen. Koko Pimentel, a person under investigation (PUI) who eventually tested positive for the virus. He was supposed to be quarantined. But he INTENTIONALLY went to Makati Medical Center (MMC) with his pregnant wife. This irresponsible action on the part of a senator of the Republic violated strict protocols for PUIs and put in danger the lives of everyone who got exposed to Pimentel as well as their families and households.

No wonder MMC issued a strong statement condemning Pimentel’s breach of protocol. A number of hospital staff had to be quarantined, resulting in the further decrease of health personnel who could work to save lives of patients. No wonder, #KokoResign was trending in social media for days. Not a few want Koko jailed.

People mourn and will not forgive government for the deaths of doctors and other medical health workers (HCWs) due to the acute shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Until now, our hospitals and HCWs continue to BEG for PPEs and other supplies.

We have seen pictures of HCWs improvising and resorting to using plastic bags, trash bags, plastic/rubber gloves, raincoats, motorcycle helmets, etc. just to have some protection against the virus. As one doctor said, “wala na ngang PPE, wala pang dignidad.” Needless to say, HCWs are frustrated and there are talks that many want the Health Secretary to resign or be replaced.

President Duterte himself is a target of people’s grumblings. His penchant for late-into-the-night public addresses despite announcements that these would happen many hours earlier is constantly criticized. His preference for police and military solutions despite the fact that COVID-19 has evolved to become a health, social, and economic crisis has not escaped people’s ire. His pronouncement about wanting all COVID-related donations centralized in the Office of Civil Defense for distribution received a lot of criticisms in the midst of the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in the country as well as the number of people dying from the disease AND the turtle-paced action of government.

Government is at the receiving end of people’s anger with news reports of dissenters being harassed.

Residents of Sitio San Roque, a poor community in North Triangle, Quezon City with a population of approximately 6,000 families went out in numbers to EDSA to demand help from government. They were desperate because their families were going hungry because of the absence of promised help. Instead of providing what people needed, the Quezon City Police instead went after them, resulting in some altercation and the arrest of 21 of these poor Sitio San Roque residents.

Social media exploded with thousands of angry posts by netizens in response to the news that the very popular Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto was issued a summons by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). He was asked to explain about possible violation of the BAHO law. Vico Sotto has become the darling of netizens for his laudable and solution-driven leadership in fighting the pandemic in Pasig. #ProtectVico was a trending topic in social media because even celebrities who were usually quiet spoke up defending the good Mayor. People were quick to point out that Koko Pimentel, not Vico Sotto should be investigated. The NBI has since said that there is no case against Sotto.

Netizens were again triggered when news broke that a Commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) wanted Vice-President Leni Robredo to be investigated by the NBI for allegedly competing against and undermining government actions against COVID-19. Robredo’s office, despite having little budget, has been delivering various forms of assistance to HCWs and poor communities. As expected, #ProtectLeni also trended on social media. Sensing people’s anger, the PACC distanced itself from the issue and said that the body had no intention to have the VP investigated.

There is also credible evidence that ordinary netizens critical of this administration were summoned by the NBI about possible violations of regulations on lockdown and other laws. This is very disturbing because if this is true, even ordinary citizens are being harassed.

The latest source of people’s anger is Duterte’s shoot-to-kill order to the police and the military against people who defy his lockdown orders. Filipinos are livid because no leader of a country should order to kill his/her people. The answer is food, not bullets. Duterte needs to understand this. Because of this, #OustDuterte trended worldwide.

At this point, even former diehard Duterte supporters (DDS) are speaking out against this government’s ineffective, uncoordinated, and shortsighted actions during this COVID-19 pandemic.

At this point, people are already getting hungry, many have lost their jobs and livelihood, businesses are all down, people are dying, and those who are sick are not given the medical treatment they need. No wonder, unrest is widespread and people are angry.

If this administration continues this way and people are not helped as they are promised, there will be trouble soon. WE DO NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN.

@bethangsioco on Twitter Elizabeth Angsioco on Facebook

Topics: COVID-19 , Koko Pimentel , Lockdown , Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission , Rodrigo Duterte , Vico Sotto
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