Rather than be enlightened and feel safe, people have become more frustrated and confused, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s press conference last 12 March 2020 as indicated in many social media postings. The press conference was most awaited given the prior announcement by the World Health Organization that the spread is now pandemic and the continuing increase of monitored numbers in the country. People expected to hear the government’s plans to manage the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
HOMONHON ISLAND, Philippines — The Philippine government has allowed a ship to dock on the island of Homonhon to take on a cargo of chromite ore, overriding local authorities who had earlier denied the vessel entry amid a province-wide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents of Homonhon, in the central Philippine archipelago of Visayas, had received reports in March that the MV VW Peace, a general cargo ship listed in Panama and with a crew of Chinese and Myanmar nationals, planned to dock at the island’s Cantilado Pier. It was reportedly due to collect 7,000 tonnes of chromite and other mineral ore with an estimated value of $1.2 million from Techiron Resources Inc.’s 1,500-hectare (3,700-acre) mining site.
AS a Chinese mining firm secured the green light from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to resume loading operation from Homonhon Island, Eastern Samar Governor Ben P. Evardone said quarantine protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) was grossly violated. Worse, Evardone said, the DENR personnel tasked to monitor the loading operation to ensure that health protocols are observed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have abandoned their posts. He said the DENR left the Chinese crew and their local counterparts on their own.
Almost every morning during these COVID-19 lockdown weeks, I have been posting on Facebook the front page of the digital version of the Inquirer. For the computer illiterate, the Inquirer digital version is exactly what the day’s newspaper looks like, and you can flip the pages with your finger on the touchscreen of your gadget. It is best to read on a tablet while you are having your breakfast coffee. You have to be a subscriber to access the entire issue. Oh, but I must say that there is nothing like the smell of the news and the day’s Sudoku on real paper. Alas, there has been no delivery for more than a month now. When the Inquirer came out with the editorial “Betraying Homonhon” last Tuesday, I wanted to immediately share the stand-alone online version, but it was not yet uploaded so I took a screenshot of the Opinion page and posted it. An hour later, the free online version was up.
The Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) on Tuesday urged the Duterte administration to enforce the quarantine rules on mining companies, alleging that some mining firms committed quarantine violations in Luzon. According to the PMPI, the DENR must rethink its framework of environmental protection that is more sustainable as it cited studies that revealed that most of the diseases induced by virus come from animals and the wild, and that the phenomenon of deforestation is largely due to mining and agribusiness companies.
“We are now in both a climate and a health crisis. Both threaten human life, ”says Yolanda Esguerra of the civil society network PMPI from the Philippines. The MISEREOR partner organization is convinced that fundamental social change is long overdue. A change in our way of doing business as well as our habits and ways of life. A change with which we redefine our relationship with nature. Ways for more sustainability and social justice At the moment there are repeated calls that climate policy should be postponed in view of the Corona crisis. But they seem to fade away. Because the current situation makes us aware of how vulnerable and fragile our globalized system is, which is geared towards short-term economic gains instead of the common good of the people and the preservation of our livelihoods.
This is no ordinary Earth Day to celebrate. We are now both in a climate and health crisis. Each crisis threatens humanity’s existence. WE are being asked to STAY. In the context of the health pandemic, we are being asked to limit movements and manage social distancing and STAY home. In the context of a climate crisis, we are being asked to be with our mother earth and to make it STAY. As we are being asked to STAY, we are called to be still and reflect on what we have been doing to nature and how and why have reached this almost point of no return, where we, the human species are being threatened.
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—A network of 250 Church and people’s groups sought to add its voice to the already loud protests being heard nationwide against the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act which the groups said came at a time when the country faced severe threats from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) said instead of passing legislation relevant to the fight against COVID-19, the government instead gave priority to enacting the terror law.
CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Various groups in Northern Mindanao expressed strong opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Act 2020 which they said will trample human rights as the country grapples on the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The church-based group Philippine Misereor Partnership said that Duterte administration’s push for this law overshadowed the more urgent need for Covid-19 measures and policies. “As we call for systematic, efficient, and humane solutions in this time of crisis, the nation was instead ‘gifted’ with this despicable bill, intended to control and manage the growing dissent of people for the government’s failure to address the problems of the poorest Filipinos during the pandemic,” said Yolanda Esguerra, PMPI national coordinator.
On the same day that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country breached the 40,000-mark, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the controversial Anti-Terror Bill into law without much regard to the clamor of people for a dialogue and to veto the bill. The promise to pass a new Heal As One Law II to alleviate the suffering Filipino people due to the pandemic has been overshadowed when President Duterte declared Anti-Terrorism Bill as a priority bill, and yesterday, finally sealing it with his signature. A very misplaced priority indeed.
The Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc, a faith-based network of more than 250 humanitarian and civic organizations, urged the government to repeal the new law. Yolanda Esguerra, national coordinator of PMPI, said the law will “further assault whatever democracy is left in the country.” “Instead of limiting the democratic space” for humanitarian aid providers, Esguerra said the government must “recognize the vital role” of these organizations.