Fishers warn against weaponizing COVID-19 versus rallies
Manila, Philippines — The militant fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) called out the Department of Health to be cautious and diligent on its issuance of its advisory against mass gatherings including rallies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as it could trample on the people’s democratic rights and may even unnecessarily trigger mass panic.
“Everyone needs to be extra cautious from acquiring this deadly virus, don’t get us wrong. But we warn the government not to take advantage of this emergency situation and weaponize the disease to prevent people from doing rallies, especially if it concerns legitimate issues such as economic, civil, and human rights,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
“The DOH should thoroughly study the implications of their warning against mass gatherings, as it could equate to prohibition in public places such as wet markets, grocery stores, crowded public mass transportations, among other public places and activities, that would primarily impact the lives of the poor,” Hicap added.
Instead, PAMALAKAYA demands ‘transparency on government’s health care capability and monitoring to prevent unnecessary mass hysteria.’
The progressive group added that the ‘government should conduct free mass testing to determine who and where are the possible carriers of the disease, instead of warning against crowded areas which is improbable given the current concentration of population in urban areas.’
“Ano ba talaga ang programa ng gubyerno ukol dito? May kakayahan bang mag-mass testing ang DOH? Kapag may nakumpirmang kaso nito, libre ba ang pa-ospital o may suporta ba kung hindi makapagtrabaho ang mga pasyente? Dahil kung pababayaan lang ng gubyerno ang mga usaping ito ay baka hindi pa magkusang magpa-check-up ang mga may nararamdamang simtomas dahil sa pag-aalala sa kabuhayan ng pamilya,” the fisherfolk leader questioned.
Amid the government warning of gatherings, PAMALAKAYA marched along with various progressive organizations in time of the International Women’s Day on Sunday. ###