Lockdown rouses anger, esprit de corps
The lockdown has failed to prevent the breakout of the people’s outrage over the regime’s blunders in facing the Covid-19 crisis.
On April 1, residents of Sitio San Roque, Barangay Bagong Pag-asa, Quezon City protested to demand quick distribution of food aid. More than 6,000 residents live in the said community, majority of whom are odd jobbers who survive on daily incomes. The local government in the area has long sought to evict residents to pave way for the construction of malls and other commercial establishments.
Instead of addressing their plight, police personnel dispersed the peaceful rally and arrested 21 protesters. They were detained and threatened to be kept in jail until the lifting of the lockdown. In a video broadcast that evening, Duterte ordered the PNP to shoot anyone who will “resist.” His marching order has further stoked the people’s raging anger.
The call #OustDuterteNow immediately trended on social media after his speech. Many artists and known personalities expressed their support for the call and delivered aid for the poor. Many contributed to raise money to bail out those arrested (P15,000 each or P315,000). The police was compelled to release the 21 on April 6. However, the community was again attacked by the PNP on the same day. They violently demolished the residents’ community kitchen.
On the same day, the police demolished a barricade in Barangay Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya which residents put up to prevent OceanaGold from sneaking in its fuel tanker. On top of lockdown restriction, OceanaGold operates illegally as the local government has already suspended its operations.
Spontaneous protests were also launched by the people to demand immediate aid. In Iloilo, residents protested in front of the DSWD Region VI headquarters on April 3. Tricycle drivers also trooped to the office of Gov. Edgardo Tallado in Camarines Norte.
Meanwhile, residents of Barangay Muzon, Taytay, Rizal trooped to their barangay hall twice (March 24 and April 2) to demand that they be given aid.
Many sectors, especially the youth and professionals, expressed their raging anger against Duterte through the internet as going out and assembly are restricted. They continuously criticized the government’s failure to provide health workers with sufficient face masks, thermal scanners and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
In social media, they criticized the regime for giving special priority to senators and congressmen in testings amid the shortage in test kits. The calls #NotoVIPTesting and #MassTestingNowPH trended as people demanded to prioritize doctors and nurses, and suspected Covid-19 positive individuals. The conduct of mass testing is among the basic recommendations of the World Health Organization. The regime announced it will start conducting mass testing on April 14 but only for those who have symptoms and for health workers.
The call #NasaanAngAyuda (Where is the aid?) also trended, demanding the regime’s accountability over the slow distribution of aid and the extremely limited budget allocation.
Netizens also criticized the harassment by Duterte’s henchmen against Vice President Leni Robredo and Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto who, contrary to the national government, were lauded for their initiatives to help health workers and those adversely affected by the lockdown. Atty. Chel Diokno, who volunteered to provide legal assistance for people being harassed by the NBI, also received wide support after being harassed and insulted by Duterte.
On April 5, the call #DefendPressFreedom also trended in defense of Joshua Molo, editor-in-chief of Dawn, the student publication of the University of the East, who was threatened to be arrested and coerced to publicly apologize for posting anti-Duterte statements in Facebook.
Esprit de corps in beating Covid-19
In the absence of adequate government assistance, aid poured out from various groups and individuals to help health workers and the poor. This is while local government units are struggling to make do with limited resources to help their constituents survive.
Through the #BarangayDamayan campaign initiated by Kadamay, the group conducted relief drives in various urban poor communities. The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas launched the campaign Sagip Kanayunan (Save the countryside) to aid farmers from Batangas at Bulacan. It also conducted the campaign Bagsak-Ahon Gulay Sale to help farmers from Bulacan to sell their produce online. Kilusang Mayo Uno also launched a relief drive for workers in Caloocan and Quezon City under the campaign #TulongObrero (aid workers).
Actress Angel Locsin also spearheaded a donation drive and provided various hospitals in Luzon with isolation tents to help these establishments to accommodate more patients with Covid-19 symptoms. Many other artists and workers also volunteered to raise aid.
Many Filipinos donated to help procure more face masks and other medical needs in hospitals. Many restaurants, food stalls and ordinary citizens donated food, while others volunteered to give free transportation and delivery services, among others.