A day after President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, the National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) said that millions of Filipinos including farmers, workers and other marginalized sectors are placed in greater threat of survival amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amihan national chairperson Zenaida Soriano slammed Duterte’s response to COVID-19 pointing out the militarist approach prioritizing peace and order while heavily lacking on health and economic measures to protect the people.

“Nakita natin sa nakaraang dalawang araw na hindi pinaghandaan, hindi pinag-isipan kung hindi man binabalewala ng gobyernong Duterte and epekto ng lockdown sa mamamayan lalo na sa mga magsasaka, manggagawa at maging sa mga frontliners. No clear guidelines were provided to ensure income support for daily wage earners, no mass transport for those required to report to work especially the frontliners, support for farmers and fisherfolk are once again limited to loan programs, additional P3.1 billion health budget is not enough to equip the country’s health sector in addressing COVID-19,” Soriano added.

“The Duterte government left its responsibility to local government units and the private sector to address the most pressing issues while giving insensitive and anti-poor remarks such as ‘no one dies of hunger even for a month’,” Soriano said.

“The ‘Just follow’ response from the president is not reassuring especially when his government remains blind to the conditions of the poor and the marginalized. As long as the government does not lay down concrete socio-economic measures, the poor and marginalized will continue to risk their lives going out of their homes to ensure their families’ survival,” she added.

The group said that the government should immediately implement health and economic measures to ensure the protection of millions of Filipinos including free mass testing, distribution of vitamins, hygiene and protective kits, mass disinfection and sanitation as well as information drives in communities; employ additional doctors, nurses and other health workers and ensure their welfare and protection; increase allocation for health budget to guarantee free medical services for the poor and most vulnerable communities; rechannel P4.5 billion discretionary and intelligence fund for COVID-19 prevention; ensure accessibility and affordability of basic commodities and services; provide cash and food subsidy for affected workers, employees and the underemployed. ###

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