May 1, 2020

ILPS Philippines Statement

On April 24, the Duterte administration declared various regions under enhanced community quarantine while most of the rest of the country was placed under general community quarantine. In order to deflect its incompetence and justify its militarist response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Duterte regime has been peddling the narrative of hard-headed citizens who are defying quarantine protocols, and more recently, the “lawlessness” of communist rebels.

The coronavirus health crisis is serving as a convenient pretext to normalize the Duterte regime’s tyranny. The policies adopted by the regime are counterproductive in fighting the pandemic, further crowding already-cramped prisons while depriving Filipinos of sustained economic relief.

De Facto Martial Law

During a press conference on April 1, President Rodrigo Duterte publicly ordered the state armed forces to “shoot them dead”, referring to lockdown violators. This statement followed a new string of human rights violations, including the shooting of a retired soldier. Incidents of mass arrests and police brutality continue: civilians registering dissent on social media have been apprehended and homeless people have been detained; a fish vendor was recently mauled by local government officials; civilians in their premises have been fined for not wearing face masks, while the police struck a child sent out to buy food. Just over a week ago, members of people’s organizations on their way to distribute relief packs were arrested. Yesterday, another activist who organized relief missions to poor communities was gunned down in Iloilo by suspected state agents. Barangay officials have been humiliating and abusing people, such as putting curfew violators inside dog cages, beating up people with sticks and lewdly shaming members of the LGBTQ+ community. State-perpetrated killings of activists have continued throughout the country.

Even as we fend off these escalated attacks on human rights, we must recognize how the Duterte regime has been committing transgressions against the rights of Filipinos prior to the pandemic, such as the two-year imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao which has targeted indigenous and peasant communities, journalists and activists alike. All of these point to an intensifying de facto martial law.

Fight Against Tyranny

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the bankruptcy of the global neoliberal system, which is based on the principle of free international trade. Monopoly capitalism has opened markets on a global scale. International financial institutions such as the IMF-World Bank are empowered to pressure countries to restructure spending patterns on social sectors, including the health sector.

The right to accessible quality health care is an extension of the right to life. The health crisis has revealed the incapacity of the health sector to provide services and meet citizens’ needs. The Philippines has neither adequate treatment facilities nor sufficient medical staff. Healthcare workers themselves are neglected by the state.

The pandemic has underlined the severe economic and social disparities in our society, demonstrating how Filipinos lack access to health care, social protection for workers such as paid sick leaves, and other basic needs.

The health crisis has also exposed how those in power have no interest in upholding civil and human rights. Freedom of speech is an inalienable human right, and detaining civilians without trial undermines civil liberties. When the government restricts free speech, the right to protest and other basic rights and freedoms, it must be held accountable immediately.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggles – Philippines denounces Duterte’s de facto martial law and staunchly supports the Filipino people’s struggle against the Duterte regime’s despotism.

The ILPS-Philippines supports the following immediate demands:

1. NO to Duterte’s De facto Martial Law
2. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) mass testing and public health facilities nationwide
3. Protection and care for all health workers
4. Food, not bullets nor torture, for farmers
5. Genuine sustained food assistance and economic relief for the urban poor, the workers’ sector, and other impoverished households
6. End suppression and red-tagging of legal and democratic organizations; maximize their capacity to deal with the crisis.

Further, we urge our networks and friends to:

1. Mobilize our member organizations, individuals, and networks to release statements condemning Duterte’s de facto Martial Law
a. Reach out to other organizations, institutions of influence, members of parliament, to speak up on the issue and support the cause;
Lobby to foreign ministries, parliaments, international institutions to raise the alarm on the occurring de facto Martial Law amid the Covid-19 pandemic
b. Prompt key officials to give higher forms of response to the cases of human rights abuses and imposition of de facto Martial Law
2. Utilize all persuasive means and explore resourceful ways of communicating with them (phone call barrage, coordinated emails, etc.); and
3. Launch online actions building up to the May 1 event and onwards by initiating online gatherings and events that will feature the current situation in the Philippines and the need to fight Duterte’s Martial Law.

This 1st of May, in celebration of International Labor Day, the ILPS Philippines salutes the toiling masses, especially the frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19. The pandemic has revealed the necessity of pursuing social change by destroying the shackles of imperialism.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle Philippines calls on all its members and appeals to all other organizations, groups, and individuals in the international community to join the Global Day of Action against Duterte’s Martial Law this coming 1st of May.

We urge you to join the struggling communities in the Philippines in solidarity.


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