DAVAO CITY – Progressive groups marked the National Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan) with criticisms on the Duterte’s leadership in the COVID-19 pandemic, as it failed to provide social safety nets for the poor especially in his hometown Davao City.
The groups gathered for a program in Roxas’ Freedom Park to air these grievances, led by the urban poor organization Kadamay Southern Mindanao Region (SMR), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) SMR, Gabriela SMR, Gabriela Youth Davao, and Anakbayan – SMR, alongside progressive partylist groups Bayan Muna and Kabataan.
More than a year since the onset of COVID-19 in the country, the urban poor in Davao City continue to be hit the hardest, said Bayan Muna Davao Coordinator Rauf Sissay.
“Halos walay nagbag-o. Pait gihapon ang kahimtang labina sa mga kabus [Nothing has barely changed. The poor continue to suffer bitter consequences of the pandemic],” he told Davao Today.
The city government is boasting that COVID-19 cases are dropping in Davao, but economic problems due to the loss of livelihood and lack of government aid are still felt among the working class.
“Wala gihapon hingpit nga gitagad sa mga ahensya sa gobyerno [especially] DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) ang demands sa trabahante kabahin sa ayuda. Naa puy commitment ang Davao LGU nga hatagan og financial assistance ang PUJ drivers nga nagkantidad og P11,000, apan dili tanang drayber ang naapuran niini [The Department of Labor and Employment [DOLE] has not responded urgently to the demands for aid of our workers. While the Davao LGU has committed to extend financial assistance of P11,000 to Public Utility Jeepney (PUJ) drivers, not all drivers have received this,” he said.
A major problem faced by the poor are demolition, which Sissay said is happening since last year, despite an order by the Department of Interior and Local Government to suspend demolition activities during the pandemic.
Sissay noted that around 500 families in Barangay Bucana and Brgy. Matina Crossing have been evicted from their homes since July 2020.
Aside from residents, vendors and informal workers numbering up to 200 have lost their livelihoods due to successive clearing operations in Bankerohan Public market.
Cora Espinoza of Gabreila expressed fears that more clearing operations might happen in the coming months, especially with local road-widening projects as part of the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program.
The Kilusang Mayo Uno said that instead of addressing the poor’s concern, the government has focused on repressing the people through red-tagging led by its National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
“Isa kana ka konkretong basehan aron matawag nato nga palpak ang pamaagi sa gobyerno sa pag atubang sa pandmeya tungod dili solusyong medikal ang ilang gihimo kundi aksyong militar sa pamaagi sa paghadlok sa katawhan aron dili na mutingog [laban] sa kapalpakan nga nahimo sa kasamtangan rehimen [This is a concrete basis to judge the government’s response to the pandemic as incompetent. They did not prioritize medical solutions, but rather militaristic ones wherein those who criticize the current regime are silenced.]”
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in their statement slammed the government for making Davao City receive the biggest share of the NTF-ELCAC budget at P 1.64 billion this year, an amount which could have been spent for financial aid and procuring vaccines for the poor.
The groups ended the program with calls to uphold people’s health and sovereignty against China’s recent intrusion into the West Philippine Sea.