The first case of COVID-19 in the Philippines was reported on 30 January 2020. It was by a Chinese woman. Since then, the virus spread rapidly and today there have been around 6000 confirmed cases, out of which around 400 deaths. There may be more sick people under home quarantine. The red area is in the region of Metro Manila where the capital city Manila is. However, all 17 regions have been hit heavily by the virus and no region is safe from future contagions.

In order to fight the virus outbreak, the Filipino Congress has recently granted special temporary powers to President Duterte who decided to close municipal boundaries, shut most businesses down, and created a very strict checkpoint system in which police and soldiers would guard the territory and limit any unnecessary movement. It is also banned the use of boats, which in a country made of more than 7.000 islands, represent the main means of communication, and allows an easy access to food through fishing. Furthermore, the selling of alcohol is prohibited, in order to avoid that citizens would overuse it in a time of inactivity. Militaries are granted with the power to arrest those who violate these restrictions and to shoot in case of disobedience. Human Rights Watch is denouncing these retaliations, unfortunately in vain, like during the well-known “war drug”.

Covid-19 pandemic is hitting the poor the hardest and exposing the inequalities in the Filipino society. The most vulnerable are the numerous homeless people and the poor families in the countryside and the coast, who do not have easy access to basic hygiene and health care. The government is employing its resources on punishing measures in order to enforce the quarantine, not taking into consideration the impact that such dispositions and government choices may have on the most vulnerable portion of the society.

Therefore, many local and international organizations are trying to help by supplying primary needs such as food, water, and sanitation tools. In addition, they are asking the government to focus its resources on the protection of the right to health as a fundamental right for all humans, rather than punishing measures for those who violate the quarantine curfew. Also Kito Onlus, through our Field Manager Anna Orlando, is trying to give support to poor families by providing them food and sanitary products in Mindoro Island, in order to make them feel they are not alone in fighting the global pandemic.

Tags: , , , , Last modified: 17/04/2020