Let’s talk about platforms now, Karapatan urges 2022 aspirants

Rights group Karapatan urged candidates for the 2022 national elections to lay down their platforms, their positions on issues and concerns of Filipinos especially of poor communities now, way before the election campaign starts.

“We challenge candidates and aspirants to clearly state their positions now, and present their plans on how they will address issues and problems that Filipinos face. First and foremost, we ask them, how will they address the people’s needs during the pandemic? How do they respect and protect the rights of the people amid this crisis?” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Palabay said that amid easing of restrictions and opening up of the economy, the Filipino people remain in dire need of an effective and rights-based pandemic response which many sectors, including health workers and medical frontliners, have long been calling for since last year.

“The people do not only want or expect one-time assistance or ayuda, but a concrete and comprehensive program that will address the people’s needs amid the pandemic. Much of the proposals for an effective pandemic response were merely shrugged off by the militarist task force of the Duterte government. Worse, it used and exploited the pandemic to silence the people and trample upon our rights,” Palabay explained.

Karapatan said that 2022 aspirants should present a clear-cut and comprehensive program that will include the long-overdue needs for effective and adequate mass testing, contact tracing, vaccination, and economic recovery that will benefit most especially the rural and urban poor.

The group issued the challenge in light of a recent survey done by the Social Weather Stations which showed that 9 out of 10 Filipinos are still worried they might get COVID-19. The survey also revealed that more Filipinos fear that “the worst is yet to come.” Also, the Philippines recently ranked last in Bloomberg’s monthly survey in COVID-19 resilience, citing poor scores in the roll-out of vaccines.

“With the country named as among the worst in pandemic response, we should be made aware of those who will merely continue the inadequate and anti-people response of the current administration. We should demand, advocate and work for a pandemic response that advances the rights of the people to health, livelihood, basic freedoms and rights, at all costs, and does not trample upon the rights of the people,” said Palabay.

The group said that aside from concrete plans to address the pandemic, candidates should also present their views and positions on corruption and human rights violations.

“Especially during a pandemic, corrupt practices and careless spending of public funds are crimes that highlight the extent of the climate of impunity. Those who incite, drive, promote and/or conduct State-sponsored killings and other rights violations should also be held accountable. We want to hear from the candidates, will they go after those who steal the people’s money, or simply tell us to move on? Will they keep those accountable for these crimes in public office and in power? Will they investigate and pursue accountability against those involved in the Pharmally scheme, and the rampant killings, all under Duterte?” asked Palabay.

The group called on the public to make these issues, among many others, to be at the center of the discussion in the elections.

“Every elections, we are constantly promised of change and now, even continuity. Thus, we should bring the public discussion on the people’s needs and concerns to the center. After so many lives lost due to the pandemic and the government’s policies against the people, we shouldn’t be settling for anything less,” Palabay said.