Karapatan: Marcosian delusion of martial law declaration will only worsen the pandemic

It seems that, after wasting weeks on ineffective militarist and anti-people policies, President Rodrigo Duterte is now using the Left and the pandemic as convenient scapegoats for his incompetence in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and to condition the public for his Marcosian delusion of a formal declaration of nationwide martial law.

In his televised address last April 17, Duterte threatened to name critics of the government’s militarist response to the pandemic — and earlier this morning, he has singled out Karapatan in his threats of going after communist “legal fronts.” 

Its implications are evidently clear: Duterte is singling out human rights organizations like Karapatan to deflect accountability from the abuses of authority borne from his militarist and violent pronouncements as well his neglect of the people’s welfare in general, and to herald a witchhunt of human rights workers in the country. 

Truly, as United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres had warned, the pandemic is “fast becoming a human rights crisis” as it provides, in countries like the Philippines, “a pretext to adopt repressive measures for purposes unrelated to the pandemic.”

We strongly call on the Philippine government to put an end to its attacks on human rights. We remind Duterte that people’s rights are paramount even in situations such as civil war and public health emergencies.

Now more than ever, the government should act with transparency and for the interests of the people by heeding the people’s legitimate demands for mass testing, the protection of health workers, and responding to the socioeconomic needs of the poor and the marginalized. Militarist and punitive measures have already proven to be ineffective and outright useless to curb the pandemic: a delusion of martial law will only worsen it.