Karapatan: ECQ restrictions on community pantries, unvaccinated individuals and non-APORs are discriminatory and anti-people

As Metro Manila braces for another round of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), human rights alliance Karapatan said that the threats on humanitarian efforts such as community pantries and food relief missions, against unvaccinated individuals, and those who leave their homes if they are not authorized persons outside of residence (APOR) throughout the duration of the lockdown are “patently discriminatory and anti-people” as the group called for “people-centered, rights-based, and scientific solutions that would comprehensively address the public health crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Amid the lack of adequate ayuda for affected households and the scarcity of vaccine supplies in the country, these lockdown restrictions on community pantries and other humanitarian and relief efforts and threats against unvaccinated individuals and other citizens from going out of their houses only place more burden to on the public — who are already suffering from the government’s criminal neglect of people’s welfare in responding to this crisis,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

The ECQ in Metro Manila and nearby provinces takes effect today, August 6, until August 20, supposedly to curb the possible transmission of the Delta variant of COVID-19. Among the restrictions to be put in place include the Metro Manila Development Authority discouraging setting up community pantries during the ECQ and threats against unvaccinated individuals. Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año also threatened non-APORs with arrests if they leave their homes.

While certain restrictions on mobility such medical quarantines are necessary to combat the spread of the disease, Palabay asserted that these “should be proportionate as well as based on logic and in upholding the welfare of the public. Furthermore, lockdowns restrict a large part of the workforce from going to their jobs — and people are actually losing their jobs. Restricting and discouraging humanitarian efforts such as community pantries and threats against unvaccinated individuals and non-APORs from going out of their residences, all while the government refuses to provide adequate ayuda and a majority of the population remains unvaccinated, only exacerbates the effects of the crisis, leaving people with no choice to go out just so they can put food on their tables,” the Karapatan official continued.

“There will be no need for people to line up at community pantries and they will stay at home if you provide them adequate assistance to offset the loss of their jobs or profits. The government should ramp up testing, contact tracing and isolation, and vaccinations, as well as implement comprehensive solutions to address the effects of the pandemic. However, so long as the government refuses to listen to science, evidence-based proposals, and the people’s demands, we will be doomed to repeat this cycle of lockdowns — and it is the people who suffer,” she ended.