ILPS Philippines Statement
April 20, 2020
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Philippines strongly condemns the arrest of the members of peasant and peoples’ organizations who were on their way to conduct relief operations yesterday in Norzagaray, Bulacan.
Elements of the Philippine National Police accosted the relief volunteers as their vehicle passed through a checkpoint manned by the PNP and were arbitrarily detained for allegedly violating RA 11332 “or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act” and the Revised Penal Code on Inciting to Sedition despite having the necessary legal paperwork to conduct the relief mission. The PNP has deemed the Covid-19 pamphlets brought by the relief volunteers as ‘anti-government’, red-tagging the peasant organizations and harassing the volunteers. As of now, the volunteers remain in detention without official cases filed by the PNP.
The Philippine government’s snail-paced, measly and obscure social amelioration program still has not reached the poor. The masses have taken it upon themselves to look out for one another and provide each other support through collective efforts such as relief operations. Sagip Kanayunan and Tulong Anakpawis are the humanitarian efforts of peoples’ organizations such as Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan, and Anakpawis. These have been ongoing since the Covid-19 lockdown, reaching more than 2,000 families in various provinces.
The threat of a creeping ‘martial-law type’ lockdown is a manifestation of the Duterte regime’s desperation to quell any form of dissent arising from the people by suppressing their civil liberties and therefore be unable to hold the government accountable for its delayed, inadequate and inefficient response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has pointed its finger to citizens and their purported non-compliance to quarantine measures to stop the spread of the disease without acknowledging the economic impact of the lockdown to impoverished families.
The Filipino people demand economic aid and respect for democratic and human rights. We demand the immediate release of Sagip Kanayunan volunteers!