By: Harris Haboc
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, several countries have been on strict quarantine or lockdown measures especially here in the Philippines, which started last March 16, 2020. Until today, Metro Manila and most parts of the Philippines are still under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) as declared by the IATF. One of the greatest issues that the Philippine Government is currently facing is that instead of addressing the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country, other issues that are unrelated to the pandemic and public health are being instead given priority. These events include the renaming of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas, authored by Paolo Duterte and 2 other lawmakers, The Philippine Government recently alloting a 47-billion peso budget for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay instead of supporting the healthcare system and raising the salaries of frontliners, and President Duterte prioritizing the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill instead of taking preventive measures to avoid the rise of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Paolo Duterte alongside House Speaker, Lord Allan Velasco, and ACT-CIS Representative Eric Go Yap filed House Bill №7031 which seeks to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas. Velasco stated that the proposal seeks to reposition the Philippines as the choice tourist destination as we prepare to reopen the country to travelers once the pandemic is over.
Instead of supporting the frontliners, the government focused more on the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay. With the on-going rehabilitation, COVID Referral Hospitals are being overwhelmed due to the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases, currently at 356,618 as of October 18, 2020. According to the CNN Philippines, the Duterte administration allotted P47 billion to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) funding the Manila Bay Rehabilitation. It is also stated by former Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo that “the total budget may amount to 132 billion, adding the road users’ tax for government projects will be utilized to fund the rehabilitation. It is still unclear how the government will give enough support to the medical frontliners who are risking their lives amidst the pandemic.
With all these current issues in the middle of the pandemic, there will be a big possibility of the people criticizing the government’s actions. One thing that holds the Filipino people from speaking their opinions out is the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill into law. The Amnesty International Organization stated that this Anti-Terrorism Bill is as dangerous as the Martial Law as it takes away their freedom of speech, considering activism as terrorism, and false accusations may put a group or an individual in jail without any warrant issued. With that being said, the Filipino people are in danger if the Anti-Terror law falls into the wrong hands.