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Philippines: Resist Duterte's authoritarian powers in the guise of Covid-19 response

Statement by Communist Party of the Philippines |
March 24, 2020
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Fight Back News Service is circulating the following March 24 form the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounces the Senate and the House of Representatives for railroading last night the bill that grants authoritarian powers to Rodrigo Duterte in the guise of emergency response to the threat of a Covid-19 epidemic.

Duterte is unscrupulously and shamelessly using the rising public health emergency to further reinforce his tyranny. Instead of strengthening the public health infrastructure, and mobilizing health personnel, he has placed Luzon and other parts of the country under military lockdown and gave the military and police additional powers to impose restrictions against the people.

By granting Duterte emergency powers, the Senate and House of Representatives, dominated by Duterte's minions, once again proved itself the tyrant's rubberstamp. It is a brazen and sickening act of obsequiousness.

If enacted, the bill will give Duterte powers similar to those of Marcos when he declared martial law in 1972 wherein he took over control of private establishments for his own aggrandizement, using the military and police to impose his authoritarian will.

Duterte's extraordinary powers will give him and his military and police cohorts a much wider latitude for corruption, while leaving the people shortchanged of necessary public health service.

The granting of extraordinary powers underscores Duterte's gross incompetence and failure to address the emerging public health emergency. Having cut the budget of the Department of Health, he has rendered the public hospitals and public health facilities incapable of carrying out mass testing, isolation and treatment of the growing number of patients infected by the Covid-19 disease.

He is using the Covid-19 threat to deny the people the right to travel and work, impose a curfew, leave millions of workers without wages and income, prohibit mass assemblies, and other measures that violate the people's civil and political rights.

The Filipino people are justly enraged and distrustful of the Duterte regime's militarist and antipeople response to the spread of the Covid-19. They are especially disgusted at how government officials were given priority in Covid-19 testing in the face of the scarcity of testing kits.

In the face of Duterte’s criminal incompetence, the call for his resignation or ouster is resonating among the people. The Filipino people must unite and act collectively in the face of the spread of the Covid-19, demand mass testing and other necessary public health measures to contain the spread of the disease, hold Duterte accountable for undermining the public health system and failing to act swiftly, and fight Duterte's emergency powers using the Covid-19 as pretext to impose authoritarian rule.

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