Duterte and DOH, to blame for looming August hard lockdown—CPP

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said there is no one else to blame for the government’s resort to another anti-people hard lockdown but Rodrigo Duterte himself and his Department of Health.

“For several months, the regime failed to increase the capacity in genome sequencing and necessary measures to detect and trace the anticipated threat of the quick-spreading Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus,” said CPP Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena.

“Imposing new restrictions, on top of existing lockdown measures will surely further drive the people to extreme hardships and hunger,” said Valbuena. “These prove the continuing failure of the Duterte regime to effectively handle the Covid-19 pandemic with a strategy that remains primarily reliant on population control through police and military checkpoints.”

After late detection of the highly transmissible Covid-19 Delta variant, unimproved testing and contact tracing, very limited capacity at genome sequencing, failure to strengthen the public hospitals and health services in the provinces, and very slow inoculation program, the regime is set to double the people’s burden with another series of stricter lockdown.

The Philippines’ total Covid-19 infections is at 1.57 million with 54,552 active cases as of July 28. There have been 119 total Delta cases detected with 25 cases alone in the National Capital Region. However, some NCR mayors lamented that reports of Delta cases come 20 days late.

The country’s testing capacity remains very low. On July 26, the daily tally of individuals tested for the virus is only at 30,749 a far cry from the DOH’s declared target of 90,000 per day. In fact, given the current positivity rate in the Philippines, testing should now be 100,000 per day. The total population tested since the pandemic started is only at 15.51 million.

Valbuena said that there remains no comprehensive effort to raise the state’s capacity to do mass testing and institute real (not token) contact tracing, and strengthen and expand public hospitals as preparations for possible surges. “It has utterly neglected the provinces where the Delta variant has been detected,” he added.

Duterte disregarded efforts to strengthen the health system by a vaccine-centric response, that is now proving slow and insufficient. As of July 14, the government has only vaccinated a mere 3.67% or 4.05 million of the country’s total population. At this rate, the Philippines is expected to inoculate the target 70% to achieve herd immunity only by February 2023.

“The lockdown will only succeed in causing further job losses, hunger and an even more aggravated economic crisis if the regime does not radically improve its public health system now,” said Valbuena. “It will also further serve as continuing pretext for clamping down on the people’s democratic rights.”

He pointed out that the regime continues to prioritize the purchase of war matériel and weapons and funding for the counterinsurgency programs of the military and police, as well as debt payments to the detriment of the public health system and economic subsidies for millions of unemployed and those who lost their sources of income.

Health workers continue to languish with their low and delayed salaries and bonuses despite the hazards they daily face. Economic subsidies have been insultingly small and subjected to massive corruption. “Worse, Duterte failed to properly and promptly use funds allocated for subsidies and Covid-19 response,” referring to the billions of pesos of funds in Bayanihan 2 that were left untapped.

Valbuena urged the Filipino people to express their disgust and outrage over the Duterte regime’s massive failure to properly and effectively address the pandemic and denounce its imposition of oppressive restrictions against the people. “There is no other recourse for the Filipino people but to demand the Duterte government to take the necessary radical measures to address the pandemic situation. Otherwise, the situation is bound to grow worse.”

Duterte and DOH, to blame for looming August hard lockdown—CPP