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Philippines: Denounce threats against protesters using Covid-19 as pretext

Statement by staff |
June 11, 2020
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Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement of Marco Valbuena, Chief Information Officer, Communist Party of the Philippines.

The Party denounces the Philippine National Police, whose spokesperson today, June 5, disparaged the mass actions against the Anti-Terror Bill saying the protesters compromised public health. The PNP’s statement is a thinly veiled threat against the people’s civil and political rights.

The PNP has now set the stage to stop further protest actions in an attempt to stop the mounting protest movement against the ATB. Earlier today, in the name of “public health,” police forces brutally dispersed a peaceful demonstration of students, workers and other sectors in Cebu City. A few days ago, jeepney drivers seeking to be allowed to ply their routes to earn a living, where arrested and continue to be detained.

One can clearly observe that protesters in the mass actions of the past few days were mindful of the Covid-19 pandemic and of their health responsibility to take such measures as physical distancing and wearing masks in order to not spread the virus.

But, equally as important, the protesters were mindful of their social responsibility to take action to defend the people’s civil and political rights against the threat of the enactment of the Anti-Terror Bill, as well as to voice out the people’s demand for free mass testing and other health measure to capacitate the country to effectively control the pandemic.

When people raise their voices or take to the streets during this time of pandemic, they face a risk greater than getting infected with Covid-19. They confront the danger of getting hurt and arrested by the military or police who are obsessed with placing the entire country under their control. Indeed, they are brave souls.

Duterte, the PNP and AFP do not want people getting together, not because they are concerned with the people’s health (just look at how they conducted themselves in their dispersal operations this morning or how Gen. Sinas’ celebrated his birthday a few weeks ago). Rather, they want to stop these demonstrations because they are mortally afraid that the fear they have instilled will be overcome by the people as the masses stand up and question those who claim power and authority.

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