Victims urged to report to NPA as UN raises concern over “highly militarized” Covid-19 response

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) urged victims of abuses, corruption and rights violations to report to the New People’s Army (NPA) even as the United Nations (UN) on Monday raised concern over Duterte’s “highly militarized” response to the Covid-19 pandemic which has resulted in mounting cases of human rights violations.

In a statement on Wednesday, CPP Chief Information Officer Marco L. Valbuena denounced widespread abuse of power being committed by military and police officers under the Duterte government’s military lockdown. Valbuena said Duterte “is using the Covid-19 pandemic to extend the military lockdown … to establish his unquestioned powers.”

Valbuena said that they are closely monitoring and recording all cases of rights abuses by AFP and PNP men, as well as corruption by big bureaucrat capitalists who take advantage of the situation and worsen the burden on the people. He urged victims to send their complaints via email or social media. “The appropriate organs of the people’s democratic government, Party committees and units of the NPA will receive reports of these abuses, and can investigate and take action.”

On Monday, the UN pointed out that disturbing details have emerged from dozens of countries, including the Philippines, wherein a “toxic lockdown culture against the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted drastically on society’s most vulnerable members.”
The statement was issued a week after UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on governments not to use the pandemic as a pretext for repressive measures, and to recognize that the threat is the virus and not people.

In an online press conference, UN Director of Field Operations Georgette Gagnon noted that the Philippines topped the list of the aforementioned in terms of lockdown arrests with over 120,000 apprehended for alleged “curfew violations.”

The UN stressed, “shooting, detaining, or abusing someone for breaking a curfew because they are desperately searching for food is clearly an unacceptable and unlawful response.” It clarified that “the right to life, the prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment, and the right not to be arbitrarily detained” continue to apply even amid the lockdown.

Earlier, in Quezon City, a policeman gunned down retired Army corporal Winston Ragos who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder for allegedly violating quarantine protocols on April 21. Yesterday, a 13-year-old boy sustained abrasions on his back after being beaten by a policeman with a rattan stick. A day earlier, lockdown enforcers were caught on camera beating up and dragging a fish vendor whom they arrested afterwards. In Agusan del Norte, a 63-year-old man who complained about government food packs was shot dead by a policeman at a checkpoint on April 5.

Last April 1, Duterte ordered the police and military to shoot dead citizens who will defy his regime’s lockdown protocols.

Victims urged to report to NPA as UN raises concern over "highly militarized" Covid-19 response