Groups want rights-based coronavirus measures for post-lockdown PH
MANILA, Philippines – Groups on Monday, May 11, urged the Philippine government to include a comprehensive human rights agenda in its proposed post-lockdown measures.
The 19-point agenda, created by the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND), hopes to decrease the vulnerabilities of people through legislation that address what the Philippines would look like after the months-long enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
"Approaching the end of the ECQ, we are alarmed that the government's priority continues to be focused on mobilizing the police and military, acquiring emergency powers for the President, and centralizing relief efforts in the hands of power brokers in the executive branch of government," the groups said.
The agenda includes the need for humane and non-violent means to address guidelines violators, the importance of aggressive dissemination of accurate information, and increased legal remedy for victims of human rights abuses.
The government, they said, should also prioritize free mass testing, further protection for frontliners, psychosocial interventions, and health system reforms. Support for certain sectors heavily affected by the pandemic, including farmers, should be adequate to contribute to consistent food production.
PAHRA and iDEFEND also called on the government to base its policy decisions, including those that tackle economic reforms, on "scientific and effective" information coming from discussions that take into consideration the reality on the ground.
The human rights agenda, the groups said, was launched as a response to the proposed House Bill No. 6623 which seeks to institutionalize certain guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. If passed, it will be in effect until a vaccine is created or COVID-19 is eradicated.
Through their proposal, the groups want the government policies to "recognize that the historic inequalities in Philippine society resulted in disproportionate impacts of the public health crisis response."
"[Rights groups'] medium-term and long-term proposals emphasize a rights-based governance which puts a premium on livelihood support and medical assistance, social empowerment, and protection of civil and political liberties," PAHRA and iDEFEND said.
The proposal stems from criticism of the Duterte administration's handling of the pandemic, with rampant violations and policies that the groups said only justified the use of force. (READ: Policing a pandemic: Philippines stuck with drug war blueprint)
"One can only imagine how ineptitude in governance can exacerbate the conditions of a vulnerable population under a global pandemic," they said, citing the push for the opening of online gambling operations amid the crisis.
Metro Manila and several high-risk areas in Luzon remain under enhanced community quarantine until May 15. Moderate-risk and low-risk areas, meanwhile, are following general community quarantine guidelines.
As of Monday, May 11, the Philippines has 11,086 cases of the coronavirus, with 726 deaths and 1,999 recoveries. – Rappler.com