Duterte’s new martial law threat, a cover-up for failed COVID-19 response — CPP

Marje Pelayo   •   April 24, 2020   •   1096

MANILA, Philippines – In response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s outburst over continued attacks against government forces, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Friday (April 24) accused the Chief Executive of just using the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to carry out his agenda of imposing martial law.

On its website, the communist group stressed that the President is again blaming its armed wing – the New People’s Army (NPA) – ‘to cover up’ his administration’s failure in responding to the current health crisis particularly the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing.

“This is a classic deflection tactic to draw away the people’s attention from the government’s inept, incompassionate and irresponsible actions in the face of the pandemic,” the group said.

The CPP said imposing martial law will not end the pandemic but only cause ‘greater hardship’ to the Filipino people.

The group alleged that the extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that has been expanded to cover Visayas and Mindanao is martial law.

“There is now creeping nationwide martial law and the entire country is now effectively under the highhanded and control of the military and police,” the CPP noted.

READ: Duterte threatens to declare martial law if NPA attacks continue

The leftist group defended the NPA over the recent encounters with government troops saying the group was only responding to the attacks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) since it has further stepped up its counterinsurgency operations.

“The armed clashes between the NPA and the AFP in the past days are a result of the attacks of the AFP and active defense of the NPA,” the group said.

“In fact, the AFP never went on ceasefire, even when Duterte ordered a suspension of offensive operations last March 19 to April 15, deploying troops to more than 350 barangays and 120 towns to conduct counterinsurgency, mounting at least 24 offensives and six aerial bombardments,” it added.

The CPP accused that such intensified counterinsurgency efforts by the AFP are aimed at preventing the NPA from conducting its own public health campaign in response to the COVID-19 crisis in areas where the Duterte government ‘does not exist’ and their efforts are warmly received.

Nevertheless, the party said it stands by the ceasefire order of its Central Committee that has been extended to April 30 to prioritize its own public health campaign in their villages.

While so doing: “All units of the NPA must, however, remain vigilant and on high alert against attacks of the AFP and ready to engage in battle,” the group concluded.

Reds agree not to block safe, prompt delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to remote communities

Marje Pelayo   •   February 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) agrees on the importance of coronavirus vaccines reaching the intended communities without delay.

In response to the appeal of President Rodrigo Duterte, the group assured not to cause any delay in the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines to areas they consider as bulwarks of its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

“The Communist Party of the Philippines must guarantee that the vaccines in the course of their being transported to areas where no city health officers or medical persons, huwag ninyong galawin ang medisina. Allow the vaccines to be transported freely and safely,” Duterte said during Monday’s public address.

However, CPP chief information officer Marco Balbuena said they prefer humanitarian groups to facilitate the transportation, distribution and inoculation.

“We strongly suggest that the transportation, distribution and inoculation drive of Covid-19 vaccines especially in the interior areas be handled by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Philippine Red Cross and other civilian humanitarian agencies whose personnel are properly trained and who have the facilities to undertake such missions,” Balbuena said.

They want every non-Red Cross vehicle to have proper markings during delivery and as much as possible, no military vehicles among them as there might be miscommunication that could lead to encounters.

“Non-Red Cross vehicles that will be used as Covid-19 vaccine transporters must be clearly and properly marked with a Red Cross over white background,” Balbuena noted.

But according to Malacañang, the government’s vaccine rollout program will push through as planned.

“We have a rollout plan. Iyon po ang masusunod kahit ano pang sabihin ng CPP-NPA,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“I guess they have freedom of expression but they are tagged as a terrorist group so parang they can express their opinion but hanggang dun lang po yun,” he added. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PNP clearance required for civil society groups wishing to aid local COVID-19 efforts – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   February 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday said civil society organizations (CSO) that wish to be part of local COVID-19 response and recovery efforts need to first secure a clearance from the Philippine National Police (PNP).

DILG Officer-in-Charge Bernardo Florece Jr. said this is to ensure that only legitimate civil society groups are engaging with the department and local government units.

“To determine the legitimacy of CSOs and prevent scams and other fraud, they are required to secure clearances from the PNP in addition to local accreditation requirements,” Florece said in a statement.

The clearance to be issued by the PNP shall indicate that such CSO has no record of illegal activity. 

“Gusto lang nating makasiguro na ang mga CSOs na katrabaho natin ay tunay na nais makatulong sa gobyerno at sa mga mamamayan,” he said.

The DILG said the directive follows reports of “fly-by-night CSOs” that wish to engage with local governments in order to lend legitimacy to their operations and secure funding from local and foreign institutions to finance their personal agenda.

“Kunwari ay gustong makatulong at makikipagpartner sa gobyerno pero may hidden agenda ang mga ito kaya kailangan nating siguruhin kung legitimate ba talaga sila o nanggagamit lang,” Florece said.

In an earlier directive, the DILG called on CSOs, private sector organizations and volunteer groups/individuals to work with barangay leaders in contact tracing, public information campaign on Disiplina Muna, values formation training, and capacity building activities on livelihood opportunities.

Among the other requirements for CSOs to be accredited as stated in DILG Memo Circular 2019-72 are the following:

  • List of current officers and members
  • Board resolution signifying intention for accreditation
  • Original sworn statement that CSO is an independent, non-partisan organization
  • Minutes of annual meeting, annual accomplishment report and
  • Financial statement for the preceding year

Meanwhile, DILG Spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the department has issued Memo Circular 2021-012 urging LGUs to set up a CSO Desk that will be responsible for handling CSO-related concerns in their localities.

“Ang paglahok ng CSOs sa pamamahala ng gobyerno ay ipinag-utos ng Konstitusyon. Having CSO Desks in LGUs will ensure effective and reasonable participation at all levels of social, political, and economic decision-making,” said Malaya.

It should be headed by a designated or appointed CSO Desk Officer who shall facilitate and promote people’s participation in governance within the LGU.

“LGUs are further directed, through the Sanggunian, to enact an ordinance establishing a system of partnership between the LGU and CSOs that defines their roles and involvement in various local government programs, projects, and activities,” the DILG said.

“This includes their participation in the local special bodies, committees, task forces, and similar groups, as required by law and the national government,” it added.

According to Malaya, the CSO Desk will be responsible for the organization of federation or coalition of sectoral CSOs, including the formation of the People’s Council in the LGU.

LGUs are likewise encouraged to establish a mechanism that will facilitate a federation of sectoral CSOs in the barangay, municipality, city, and province, and a People’s Council in the province, city, or municipality, with membership coming from the different sectors of CSOs or POs that are accredited, registered and recognized by the LGUs.

“The participation of CSOs in government processes is important for the purpose of providing check and balance and in exacting accountability. An active CSO participation is an indicator of healthy participatory governance,” Malaya said.

Philippines ranks 79th in COVID-19 response among 98 nations

Marje Pelayo   •   January 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Australia’s Lowy Institute, in its recent research on countries’ response against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, ranked the Philippines 79th among 98 nations.

The research body, Australia’s leading think tank, used the following indicators to rate the countries’ COVID-19 response: 

  • Confirmed cases
  • Confirmed deaths
  • Confirmed cases per million people
  • Confirmed deaths per million people
  • Confirmed cases as proportion of tests
  • Tests per thousand people

It said the Philippines scored 30.6 which is way behind the scores of New Zealand (94.4); Vietnam (90.8) and Taiwan (86.4).

On the other hand, the Philippines has surpassed the score of Indonesia at 85th place and the United States which is at 94th place.

The Department of Health (DOH), however, is not pleased with the result of the ranking saying it is not correct to compare the Philippines with other countries in terms of COVID-19 response.

The DOH said the Philippines’ healthcare system and income level is not parallel with other countries when it comes to responding to the pandemic.

“Some countries may have all the resources in the world and they can do testing for everybody,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Some countries may have all the resources in the world where they can be able to setup facilities as quickly as they would need them,” she assed.

Vergeire argued that the parameters used were incomplete in many aspects.

Parang hindi po kumpleto kasi tinignan lang nila numero ng mga kaso, numero ng mga deaths it has to be that they analyze together with the capacity of the health system and alongside with the granular indicators or parameters that we use in the country,” Vergeire said.

Apart from COVID-19 response, the DOH likewise explained against comparing the Philippines with other countries in terms of vaccination.

This is the DOH’s response to the earlier reports that the Philippines lagged behind Myanmar and Bangladesh that already rolled out their respective COVID-19 vaccination when the Philippines is more progressive than the two nations.

“This is not a race of who starts first but this is really something na magagawa natin ng maayos at mabibigyan ng protection ang most of our countrymen,” Vergeire said.

Kaya inaayos ang lahat ng negosasyon na iyan,” she added. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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