Opinion Fighting opinion article about covid-19 philippines Covid Poverty in the Philippines
At the height of the recent surge, the government claimed that around 14 percent of beds in intensive care units in Metro Manila were still available , even as social media feeds were flooded with calls for help and stories of patients being taken to facilities four or five hours away because of long waiting lists. Look at Germany, look at France, the government says; rich countries are also suffering. A memo from the presidential communications office was leaked recently: It directed state media to emphasize the global picture “to convey to the public that the Philippines is faring better than many other countries in addressing the pandemic.” The pantries exposed the granular suffering that the most vulnerable among us experience daily, the quiet scraping-by. They reminded people of the government’s paltry aid . “ Tayo-tayo na lang ,” went a common refrain on social media; we’re on our own. Like the ambulances I track, the pantries are a coping mechanism that also upends any illusion of normalcy. Opinion Fighting opinion article about covid-19 philippines Covid Poverty in the PhilippinesOpinion Fighting opinion article about covid-19 philippines Covid Poverty in the Philippines The confirmed Covid-19 case total in the Philippines breached the one million mark in late April. New daily cases were averaging about 7,700 this week, down from a peak of about 10,800 in mid-April, but that’s still considerably more than the previous high of about 4,400 in late August. And the Department of Health warned recently that the situation could quickly worsen again and the Philippines could face the “big possibility” of an “India-like” catastrophe. Mr. Diaz is a writer based in Manila. His second novel, “Yñiga,” about the spate of political killings in the Philippines in the 2000s, was shortlisted for the 2020 Novel Prize. Dire superlatives limn the costs of the state’s neglect. Figures for infections and deaths per capita in the Philippines are now the worst in Southeast Asia. The economic downturn here has been the steepest in the region . The country faces the most sluggish economic recovery . Still, the government insisted that it had done an “ excellent job ” of containing the virus. “ We did not fall short ,” Mr. Duterte intoned in his trademark drawl after he reappeared. Among the most virulent critics is Asia’s longest-running insurgency . In a televised interview on April 20, General Parlade compared Ms. Non with Satan : Both may seem to operate on their own, he said, but in reality they are propped up by a massive, concerted operation — in this case, the vile communist network. Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram . Led by a Covid task force filled with military officials , the government’s pandemic response is bannered by a militarized approach to containment, exceedingly strict lockdowns and punitive measures against supposed violators. One man accused of breaking quarantine reportedly died after being forced by police officers to do squat-like exercises as punishment. Rising to the challenge, people sent bagfuls of groceries . The owners of nearby stores where supplies were being bought matched those donations. Farmers from tens of miles north sent sacks of sweet potatoes ; fishermen to the south, kilos of tilapia . Which is why the government’s storytellers promptly went to work. The communists were using the pantries to recruit rebels , they warned. The pantries’ slogan was Marx-adjacent. The health care system is buckling after decades of austerity and privatization . But more than anything, the culprit is the Duterte administration’s penchant for solutions anchored in brute force and draconian control rather than science and concern for the public’s welfare. His spokesman, Harry Roque — who tested positive for the virus in early April and miraculously found an empty bed at the top government hospital — has placed the blame for the recent surge in cases squarely on new virus variants. Not on reopening up too quickly after an earlier lockdown, not on a virtually nonexistent contact-tracing system, not on a botched vaccination deal that may have delayed the beginning of inoculations by months. As of Friday, just 0.3 percent of the population had been fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker. Glenn Diaz is the author of the novels “The Quiet Ones” and “Yñiga.” The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: . Skip to content Skip to site index Today’s Paper Opinion | Pandemic Pantries in the Streets? You Communist! s.com/2021/05/07/opinion/philippines-covid-pantries.html Advertisement I started counting sirens out of helplessness and rage; it was a desperate attempt to get a handle on what is really happening on the ground, opinion article about covid-19 philippines given competing accounts and confounding official policies. Among the first photos that spread on social media, one showed an older woman holding open her reusable bag while Ms. Non put bundles of leafy vegetables inside. In another , Ms. Non was crouched next to the pantry, which she replenished with greens from the baskets around her. The idea behind the pantries was inviting in its simplicity; the exchange, at its heart, instinctive and mutually gratifying. It linked people and communities torn apart by the lockdown. Ms. Non, 26, loaded the cart with the simplest of food items: canned goods, rice and pieces of hardy chayote, a local gourd. Taped on a nearby lamppost were two cardboard signs. One said “Maginhawa Community Pantry.” The other stated the pantry’s operating principle: “Give what you can. Take what you need.” “Give what you can. Take what you need.” How much has the government given, considering what it has taken?
As word got around, more people — including a few, no doubt, among the millions who have lost their jobs in the pandemic — made a beeline to Maginhawa. Credit... Ezra Acayan/Getty Images By Glenn Diaz In late March, a journalist succumbed to the virus after isolating himself in his car : He had stocked it with food and water, terrified of infecting his family and only too aware of the dire state of health facilities. Around that time, Mr. Duterte vanished from the public eye for a couple of weeks, fueling rumors about his failing health. It was amid the mounting anguish and collective grief that in mid-April, Ana Patricia Non, who goes by Patreng, , in the mostly well-to-do neighborhood of Quezon City near the campus of the University of the Philippines. In July, Congress railroaded an antiterrorism law that critics warned would pave the way for a brazen crackdown on perceived enemies of the state . The nongovernmental organization Karapatan reported more than 50 extrajudicial killings between the law’s passing and the end of 2020; among the victims were community organizers, activists and farmers who had been denounced by state officials. On March 7, just days after Mr. Duterte ordered security forces to “ kill them all ,” in reference to communist rebels, nine people died in a raid against left-leaning community organizers and activists. Vice President Leni Robredo , several senators and lawyers’ groups have denounced this red-tagging of pantry organizers and have called for their protection. In my neighborhood, not far from Maginhawa, a call for donations went out on Twitter. The following morning, there was a plastic table on the side of a quiet road and on it a bag brimming with garlic, onions and tomatoes — the critical starter ingredients for most Filipino dishes. There were signs bearing the name of our area and Ms. Non’s mantra, “Give what you can. Take what you need.” Within two weeks, more than 400 pantries reportedly had sprouted across the country. Most important, it fed those in need: As of late March, some 3.2 million people in Metro Manila, or almost one in four residents, were thought to be going hungry . Ms. Non’s pantry was like the first drop of rain landing on parched earth. MANILA — The day the city went back into a hard lockdown in late March, I started a ritual: Trapped again, I took to counting the ambulance sirens I’d hear from my place in Quezon City, the most populous area of this sprawling capital. At one point, blare after dystopian blare came every 20 minutes or so. Mr. Duterte, the archetypal strongman, is adamant about controlling the narrative. His government has remained popular despite a war on drugs that has killed thousands of people , the shutdown of the country’s biggest media network and the jailing of a senator in the opposition. Mr. Duterte is supposed to leave office next year, opinion articles on current events