Sunday, June 13, 2021

Speak Out: We demand mass testing and aid, not suppression

THE Rural Women Advocates (Ruwa) is united with the entire nation in demanding accountability from this government in handling the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has been more than two months since the Philippine government implemented enhanced community quarantine on the entire island of Luzon. But even with the longest lockdown in the world, the country is still nowhere near flattening the curve. Numbers continue to rise by the day as we now have crossed the 10,000 mark. Transitioning some critical areas from enhanced community quarantine to general community quarantine is alarmingly premature.

With the time that has elapsed, it is no longer reasonable to have no concrete plan of action in dealing with our pressing issues both medically and economically. The government has failed to prioritize the immediate needs of its people and instead moved to further militarized and threaten the growing critics of the administration. It bears reiteration that the goal should be is to quell the virus, not silence the government’s critics.

In these difficult times, it is again the marginalized who bears the brunt of the government’s ineptitude. Because of the current pandemic, farmers and fisherfolk continue to struggle with the loss of income brought about by the strict policy of staying at home. Famers are unable to harvest most of their crops and are now left spoiled while fisherfolk struggle to sell their catch.

It is high time that the government recognize the plight of our farmers and fisherfolk during this pandemic. We demand that immediate aid be given to these marginalized sectors. We also strongly denounce the transfer of Social Amelioration Program (SAP) to AFP and PNP. This move threatens farmers from progressive organizations to submit to their demands in exchange for aid. The implication of this policy can endanger the lives of many farmers.

Finally, we demand a quick and mass response to the medical needs of each and every Filipino. It is futile to prolong the longest lockdown in the world if we fail to flatten the curve. Mass testing should be done now. While the spirit of bayanihan from ordinary Filipinos to conglomerates is commendable, the government should disburse the funds for mass testing now. It is time to prioritize the welfare of the citizens and the time is now.

Vitto Lardizabal

Rural Women Advocates (Ruwa)


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