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Bayan: COVID-19 is a health issue, not of peace and order

Bayan: COVID-19 is a health issue, not of peace and order

MANILA, Philippines—When Malacañang aired President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement to implement a “national action plan” on Tuesday late evening, it showed the head executive entrusting enhanced powers to the military and police to combat COVID-19, which is a health crisis.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), however, sees the move as counterintuitive.

Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes said the NAP should address three main points, all of which fall under health and socio-economic realms.

“Right now, the people’s demands can be summed up in three points: immediate economic relief for the poor and vulnerable, mass testing for those with symptoms, and protection for frontline health workers,” said Reyes Wednesday in a statement.

Duterte, also, didn’t lay out a spending plan for NAP and, Reyes said, that it’ll put the health and welfare of Filipinos at a disadvantage.

“These were not sufficiently and comprehensively addressed in the emergency powers act since no spending plan was ever submitted,” said Reyes after Congress awarded Duterte with emergency powers amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“The lack of a unified and comprehensive plan to fight COVID-19 threatens the health and welfare of the entire population.”

Duterte said the NAP will have Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as chairman and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año as vice chairman and the group will complement the Inter-Agency Task Force, which the Department of Health heads, in its fight against COVID-19.

Reyes said the Department of National Defense and Department of Interior and Local Government leading the NAP is “quite problematic.”

“COVID-19 is first and foremost a health issue and not a peace and order issue,” said Reyes. “It requires medical solutions and not militarist responses.”

At present,  552 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Philippines. Of this number, 35 patients have died while 20 have recovered.

/MUF

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