Quezon City, Metro Manila – The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) expressed dismay over the recent address of President Rodrigo Duterte to the public. “We expected nothing less than a sound, scientific, and comprehensive plan to address the rising number of COVID-19 cases, but we heard nothing of that sort. This is after the announced extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Metro Manila and other parts of the country until May 15,” said Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza, NCCP General Secretary.
As of April 24 afternoon, the DOH reported 7,192 cases with 477 deaths and 762 recoveries.
Despite the good growing number of recoveries, the death cases continue to rise, especially among medical frontliners. The rising cases among detainees is also a cause for alarm.
“On the second extension of the ECQ, we expected the President to discuss to the public key plans that will support the people in this time of crisis – medical, social, and economic. But we did not hear anything about mass testing, increase in the number of testing laboratories, support to the medical front-liners, and a more transparent and efficient social amelioration program for the poor”, Bp. Marigza said. “We reiterate that what we are facing is a health issue and that needs medical solutions coupled with socio-economic safety nets. We need more medical people advising the President what to do, not the military.”
In the same address, the President also expressed anger against the New People’s Army (NPA) and threatened to impose martial law and more arrests, punishment, and deployment of more military personnel.
The NCCP General Secretary scored the President’s threat to declare martial law. “The United Nations admonished its member-states that lockdowns or an ECQ should not be used to justify violations of human rights. The verbal announcement of the President that the military and the police shall take over in enforcing ECQ in communities is a cause of concern as it makes the people vulnerable to human rights violations. Making the majority of the people suffer martial law for the alleged sins of an armed group is a total disservice to the nation,” Bp. Marigza added.
“As churches, we are hoping to hear plans from the President that illustrate compassion and service to the people. We will never grow weary in asserting a more people-centered, life-giving acts from the government who has the sworn duty to serve the people. No amount of extensions will beat COVID-19 if the government will only talk about military deployment, punishing those so called violators of the law, without addressing the root causes of the people’s growing restlessness,” Bp. Marigza ended.#