Overkill ‘hard lockdown’ implementation hit: Poor Filipinos need SAP, but gov’t instead gave them police SAF

Overkill ‘hard lockdown’ implementation hit
Poor Filipinos need SAP, but gov’t instead gave them police SAF

Manila, Philippines – Former Anakpawis Party-list representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao today criticized the ‘overkill implementation’ of the 48-hour hard lockdown in Tondo, Manila wherein 1,000 policemen and 250 PNP Special Action Forces (SAF) commandos were deployed by the PNP National Capital Region Police Office to help carry out the stricter lockdown measures. The 48-hour lockdown in Tondo’s District 1, started yesterday at 5 a.m. and will last until 5 a.m. tomorrow. Under the hard lockdown, residents of Tondo 1 District will not be allowed to leave their houses except those who are listed as Authorized Person Outside Residence.

The local government will reportedly conduct rapid testing COVID-19 similar to what was done in Sampaloc during its 48-hour lockdown from April 23 to 25. The measure was imposed by Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and allow for disease surveillance, verification, and rapid risk assessment. Manila’s District I is one of the densely-populated areas in the city and home to many urban poor communities including Baseco, Parola Compound, Isla Puting Bato, Delpan, Vitas, as well as housing buildings in the former Smokey Mountain dumpsite. The hard lockdown measures target urban poor communities using the stereotype that poor people are ‘pasaway’ and are usual suspects violating the government protocols on quarantine.

“We completely understand the need for mass testing. The government should have started COVID mass testing weeks ago, but the deployment of 1,200 fully-armed police and special forces to secure Tondo is just too much and overkill,” says Casilao.

The NCRPO even bragged that the SAF commandos deployed in Tondo communities are battle-experienced forces who fought in the government’s counterinsurgency campaigns. We are wary that this battle-tested element would make a Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo repeat that killed a former soldier diagnosed with PTSD. What they need is not soldiers but health personnel. virus ang kalaban dito” added Casilao, referring to the indiscriminate shooting of Winston Ragas by a QC police officer. “The government cannot always impose rules by through threats and militarist ways.”

The ongoing hard lockdown already resulted to more than one hundred apprehension of alleged violators, mostly poor people those who went out of their cramped homes.

Instead of fast-tracking distribution of Social Amelioration Program or SAP, the residents of District 1 of Manila got police SAF on arresting spree. So far, the Manila City government has recorded a 24% rate SAP distribution which is slow and selective of the 500,000 poor families in the city.

He added that poor people need speedy distribution of relief goods and financial aid. We can’t make the people stay inside their respective homes if they are hungry. The hard lockdown in fact is worsening their suffering. It further limits not only their movement but also restrains them from conducting any economic work that could help them at this time when their food stocks already ran out and relief goods from the barangay are lacking.

The former solon further said: “what poor people need is a compassionate and humane response to the pandemic and health crisis. The militarist-oriented lockdown that violate the rights of the poor through unnecessary apprehension will only strengthen the resentment of the people against the government.”

“Duterte and his militarist IATF composed of former army and police officials are in fact using the COVID19 to advance their agenda to curtail peoples’ rights as it is clear that they are failing miserably in controlling the spread of the virus. They are closing down part of the city and subjecting people to mass arrests, while at the same time, gearing for the opening of POGO operations to ensure the cash flow from China to Duterte’s coffers.”

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