Responding to President Duterte’s declaration of extending until 12 September 2022 the state of calamity in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Butch Olano, Amnesty International Philippine Section Director, said:
“Extending the national State of Calamity until September 2022 due to COVID-19 seems a practical recommendation at this time as more and more people succumb to the Delta variant; but the situation of the country under one of the longest lockdowns in the world remains feeble, with little to no progress. The Duterte administration has failed to proportion its response to the pandemic even after almost two years into it, with lackeys, not experts, at the helm.
“Not being able to properly identify and implement strategies that should have aimed at striking a balance between promoting public good and protecting public health came at a high cost. With an ongoing Senate probe on alleged COVID-19 fund mismanagement, the country is left in a rut without any clear directions. The harm brought about by misplaced policies, and loyalties, even with another national state of calamity in place, outweighs its benefits. It has not effectively achieved its aim when first declared in 2020, especially on the issue of quarantine protocols that only infringed on basic rights and civil liberties. If ignored, the extension will only allow continuous arbitrary and unchecked use of government funds specially that elections are near.
The harm brought about by misplaced policies, and loyalties, even with another national state of calamity in place, outweighs its benefits. It has not effectively achieved its aim when first declared in 2020, especially on the issue of quarantine protocols that only infringed on basic rights and civil liberties.Butch Olano, Section Director
“Those who are in the frontlines are the first to know if a policy is not appropriate, and government officials clearly have different priorities when they start to demonize health care workers who voice their concerns about the condition of our health care system instead of listening to what they have to say. The Philippine pandemic situation will continue to regress with the kind of government who puts self-interest ahead of upholding their human rights obligations and responsibilities to fight the pandemic.
“The country’s healthcare system is in grave danger as cases spike, showing how insufficient the government’s vaccine rollout effort has become; it is undermined by lack of transparency; obstructed by political interests and delays in vaccine shipments; and a failure to take into consideration human rights vulnerabilities in selection of priority groups. We have a country in chaos. At this point, even the President himself does not deny that our social, economic and political systems are already in disarray. The state of calamity is an accurate representation not only of the entire country but of how the Duterte administration ushered in a miserable plight for Filipinos amid the pandemic.”