Reihana Mohideen: Socialism V. Corona-Capitalism in the Philippines
As of April 13, 4,648 people in the Philippines have tested positive for the coronavirus and 297 have died from Covid-19, although those figures most likely underestimate the pandemic’s spread. Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, a right-wing populist in the mold of Donald Trump and Narendra Modi, was initially slow to respond to the health crisis. As the threat grew, Duterte intensified draconian military and police measures to enforce a lockdown that relies more on martial law than public health.
Since taking office, police and the military have killed at least 6,600 people in Duterte’s self-declared war on drugs. Over the last few weeks, Duterte has made it clear he plans to continue the use of deadly force while his police have locked protesters in dog cages. “My orders to the police and the military, including to the village chiefs, is that if a commotion breaks out and they put up a fight that puts your life in danger, shoot them dead,” Mr. Duterte said last week.
As the socialist Partido Lakas ng Masa wrote at the time of Duterte’s declaration of a lockdown, “We have declared a public health emergency, and yet the government has already cut down on the health budget this year. Instead of laying off the 7,000 nurses as announced this year, the government should instead massively increase the number of health workers.”