Manila, Philippines – The National Federation of Peasant Women or Amihan denounced the Duterte administration and interior secretary Eduardo Año for using another militarist measure in resolving the pandemic in the country. The group said that the “house-to-house” measure armed police entering people’s houses, will definitely not resolve the escalating number of COVID-19 patients, instead it will result to many rights abuses. Moreover, the move is senseless and waste of taxpayers’ money, which is supposed to be funneled to more important programs such as free mass testing and treatment of poor patients. Worse, it could also be used against activists and opposition where government armed forces could easily enter and plant evidence against their target.
“Hindi talaga natututo ang rehimeng ito. Nagpakalat na nga ng sandamukal na pulis noong lockdown, napakaraming checkpoint, nagpaandar pa ng tangke, mga todo-armadong SWAT, may pinatay pa nga sila na violator raw ng stay-at-home order, inutil naman sa pagpigil ng paglala ng pandemya. Ngayon, eto na naman, na para namang may saysay ang presensya ng pulis sa pag-handle ng mga suspected patients. Ibig ba sabihin nito, kapag ‘nanlaban’ ang kanilang target, babarilin nila?” exclaimed by Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National Chairperson.
She also warned that even police personnel could also worsen the already worsening pandemic as many of them are already infected. As of yesterday, 1,223 police are infected with the virus, and 666 probable cases and 1,431 suspected cases.
“Dapat nga imbestigahan ay baka may malaki pang papel ang pulis sa paglala ng pandemya dahil pakalat-kalat sila, at alam naman nating wala silang alam diyan sa virus na yan. Ang matagal nang sigaw ng mamamayan ay mass deployment ng mga frontliner health workers, hindi mass deployment ng walang silbi at pahamak pang pulis at militar,” she slammed.
Amihan said that house-to-house operations is a usual counter-insurgency tactics in the countryside where government armed forces threaten and harass peasant families. At present, it is systematically used in Cagayan Valley, Negros island, Samar, Leyte, Bicol region and various parts of Mindanao. The group said that it is a trigger of mass trauma of peasant women and children, as their presence automatically means red-tagging, illegal arrest and detention or even death. It added that this tactic also led to increasing number of peasant women political prisoners, such as the case of Adelaida Macusang, leader of Montevista Farmers’ Association in Davao de Oro (Compostela Valley). She was arrested at her house on March 24, 2018, with trumped up charges. She died in detention last May.
“Wala nang pagpapanggap ang gubyernong ito para resolbahin ang pandemya bagkus ang pangunahing layunin talaga ay patahimikin ang mga kritiko nito. Kahit wala pang terror law, matagal nang kinukundena ng mga kababaihang magsasaka ang house-to-house dahil maraming paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Sa kanayunan, maraming kaso na pinapasok ang bahay ng mga magsasaka at tinataniman ng kung anu-anong ebidensya at sasabihing NPA, ” exclaimed by Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National Chairperson.
She said that all these militarist and authoritarian measures the Duterte regime are carrying out are all admission of its incompetencies to respond to the pandemic and to preempt the day of reckoning by terrorizing the people. The enacted “terror law” aims to quell dissent and criticism, and now this idiotic but authoritarian house-to-house measure, obviously to press the people into submission.
“Hinihikayat namin ang taumbayan na huwag matakot sa mga pakanang ito, bagkus dapat itong labanan at i-kondena. Sila na nga ang may malaking kasalanan sa mamamayang Pilipino, sa mga katangahan nila sa pag-responde sa pandemya, sila pa ang may ganang labagin ang mga karapatan natin sa mismong pamamamahay natin. Mas malala pa ito sa martial law, dahil nagpapanggap pa silang concerned sa mamamayan. Dapat nating ipagtanggol ang ating karapatang pantao, kalayaan at demokrasya sa mga pasista at inutil na rehimeng ito,” Soriano ended. ###
Artwork by Yssa Brila of RUWA