MAG Statement on the Philippine Government’s Response to COVID-19
March 30, 2021
The recent spike of COVID-19 cases in the country undeniably proves the failure of the Philippine government’s response to the pandemic. The Philippines, which reported 10,016 new coronavirus cases on March 29, now has worst COVID-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia.
Despite the government’s claim a month ago of its “excellent” response to the public health crisis and comparing the quarantine experience of the past year to a “vacation”, the reality shows otherwise. Having spent a year in different levels of lockdown and quarantine supposedly to “flatten the curve” yet resorting to the same hastily imposed restrictions once again only demonstrates the same mistakes that the government has committed with its poor planning, delayed response, lack of transparency, and misguided and flip-flopping policies in addressing the crisis.
Blaming the new variants of COVID-19 and people complacency as reasons for the continuous rise in COVID-19 cases in the country and as bases for the re-imposition of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces from March 26 to April 4, despite having one of the longest lockdown periods in the world, is nothing but a lame excuse. The ECQ will never be an effective solution to addressing the pandemic but will only further exacerbate hunger and poverty if it is not matched with a sustained and heightened implementation of public health measures like mass testing, contact tracing and vaccination of the population.
Resorting once again to a lockdown is a definite manifestation of mismanagement and poor governance. The government cannot continue with business as usual. This crisis calls for a refocusing of priorities toward protecting public health, and that means protecting the right to health of every Filipino.
We demand the current administration to hold into account all the corruption and poor governance in responding to the pandemic. While the growing call for the resignation of DOH Secretary Duque sounds rationale but the buck should stop at Malacanang. The chain of responsibilty falls on the shoulder of the President.
The corona virus should also be a wake-up call to all of us not only to protect our environment, change our behaviors, and our way of life but also to change the kind of leaders we have.