“Contact-tracing via police-military spells profiling, state surveillance, and more HRVs; no to a military takeover of pandemic response!” —Youth Party

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Kabataan Partylist slams President Duterte’s Martial Law-like policy in addressing COVID-19 pandemic in the country, first, by announcing back then that the military would be in charge of distributing vaccines once available, and now, directing to have police and the military help in the contact tracing efforts of the government.

If Duterte does want to ensure public trust in this time of crisis, medical frontliners, experts and scientists should be in charge of defeating COVID-19 in the country. Instead of state forces to conduct contact tracing, we should push for a community level pandemic response and contact tracing. We should foster “Bayanihan” in the community to defeat the virus. With proper training in contact tracing, it would be easier since the people in the community know each other.

We oppose the further empowering of state forces who have only been cited in numerous cases of human rights violations under his regime. As we can recall, almost 200,000 poor Filipinos were fined, accosted and arrested over the course of the 3-month militarist lockdown because of the alleged violation of quarantine protocols. We do not need another Martial Law-like atmosphere considering this Administration’s track record in abusing our human rights and civil liberties.

If the military will be in charge of contact tracing, we can expect that they will use this to profile dissenters of this regime especially with the Terror Law. Several cases of profiling of teachers and students and surveillance in campuses being done by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and, of intimidation, harassment, killing, and profiling by the military to our Lumad brethren in the ancestral lands in Mindanao have been reported and exposed over the past years. One specific instance was the police and military’s profiling of students and teachers in late 2018 with their poor intelligence and thoughtless Red October plot; they could then use the contact-tracing in communities to continue perpetuating it and incur more human rights violations.

We do not need more state forces at the helm of addressing the medical and economical crisis.
Under this Administration, the police and military have only been notorious in violating basic human rights, going as far as killing the poor, weak, and critical of this administration. Over hundreds of thousands of poor and homeless citizens have been arrested for violating community quarantine protocols, when in fact, the government could have provided measures to keep them safe and to shelter them. With doctors, nurses, and medical personnel, we will have people trained in saving human lives, which is what we need more right now than ever.

The government’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic has been proven to be incompetent as it is being headed by retired military generals who know nothing about public health emergency; thus, a change in leadership is not only a need but an imperative. A public health emergency requires a medical approach and expertise. We need more medical experts and frontliners if we are to defeat this invisible enemy which is a virus–unarmed and invisible.

The other day, the Philippines reported another high single-day increase of 6,958 cases, bringing the total number to 136,638. Now more than ever, with the threat of a Martial Law-like program this government seeks to implement, we should tighten our ranks and advance our calls for medical solutions, and not militaristic actions.###

Press Statement
August 12, 2020

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