The Philippines’ Two Pandemics

Dear Asian Youth,


The Philippines is currently in a battle against two raging pandemics: Covid-19 and corruption.


Since early March, the Philippines has been on a nationwide lockdown, earning the country the title of the ‘world's longest stay-at-home orders. However, despite being on lockdown, cases in the Philippines have continue to rise day by day. Currently, the Philippines has the highest number of cases in ASEAN, with over 182,000 being confirmed. The Department of Health (DOH) has also implemented a mass recovery system, where asymptomatic and mild cases are considered as ‘recovered’. This system has left numerous Filipinos confused, as based on scientific research, patients who still have either asymptomatic or mild cases still have the ability to transmit the disease. Following the newly-implemented system, the Ateneo De Manila University has conducted a study estimating that roughly 3 million Covid-19 cases in the Philippines have possibly gone undetected. According to researcher Jan Frederick Cruz, ‘an estimated 98 percent of the infections were not discovered during the second quarter of the year’.


As of June 2020, the Philippine Government has managed to rack up 9.05 trillion Philippine pesos in debt (around 172 billion USD). This means that to fully pay off this debt, all 110 million Filipinos would have to pay 83,000 PHP (around 1,700 USD). You may be thinking, ‘with all that debt, majority of that money goes to mass testing, and maintaining the welfare of the population, correct?’. To answer that question - no. To quote the DOH’s Secretary, Francisco Duque III, ‘I do not recall that mass testing was ever done’. Of the whole population, the Philippine government plans to target 1-2% of its population, to be tested for Covid-19. With the DOH having no clear plan in sight, almost 300 medical facilities have reached over 70% occupancy.

Image Taken from: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images


As cases in the Philippines have continued to sky-rocket, the Philippine people are experiencing the negative impact, first-hand. Due to quarantine regulations, as of July 2020, it is reported that 45.5% of the labor force have lost their jobs, with a reported 16.5% decline in the Philippine economy. Despite these shocking numbers, Harry Roque, the presidential spokesperson has stated that it ‘could have been worse’. . Recently, ABS-CBN, the country’s most popular broadcasting network, was ordered an immediate shutdown, with over 11,000 Filipinos losing their jobs. Filipinos have described this as a ‘huge blow to press freedom’, as a wide audience of Filipinos have now lost their access to information. 44 percent of Filipinos relied on ABS-CBN for their source of news and entertainment, labeling the network as the most ‘popular’ network amongst the Philippine audience. Seven out of ten Filipinos expressed their support for the renewal of the ABS-CBN Franchise, indicating the immediate need for a news outlet and 56 percent claimed the non-renewal of the franchise was a "major blow to press freedom", as stated in the Philippine Constitution as a right to every Filipino citizen.

Image Taken from: Al Jazeera News


Not only is the Philippine suffering an economic downfall, its students are also feeling the backlash of the pandemic. Recently, the Department of Education (DepEd) has announced the new adjustment of the academic calendar, stating that the new opening date for classes will be on October 5, 2020. This new adjustment comes with the multiple cries from students for an ‘academic freeze’. An academic freeze would entail that all students nationwide would stop their schooling until the Covid-19 pandemic’s end, as many students have expressed their financial inability to provide themselves with the means for online classes. However, despite hearing these concerns from students all over the nation, DepEd has been persistent to push through with online distance- learning.


Covid-19, corruption, labor loss – is there more? Yes. The Philippine people are now calling out the government because of the attacks on freedom of speech Alongside the shutdown of ABS-CBN comes along the newly-approve ‘Anti-Terrorism Bill’, which allegedly targets activists by allowing warrantless arrests merely based on ‘suspicions of terrorism’, completely disregarding the human right of everyone to be ‘innocent until proven guilty’.


All the issues mentioned above have all happened during the lockdown. Corruption and Covid-19 have continued to knock down Filipinos one by one. It has been 5 months into quarantine, and the Philippines is yet to fully feel all the future backlashes these pandemics will have on the country.


- Ysabelle Delgrado

Amidst a global pandemic, the Philippine government has left its people to fend for themselves. With no assistance, people are dying, not of Covid-19, but of hunger. On top of the pandemic, recent attacks on the Philippine people's human rights have taken place such as the shutdown of ABS-CBN, the most popular Filipino broadcasting network and the new implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Bill. This article is meant to spread awareness of what is truly happening in the Philippines, as the media does not deliver enough coverage.

Biography:

I'm a 16 year old junior in senior high school, taking the academic STEM strand, in hopes to one day become an epidemiologist. I would consider myself a student-activist because I will not let my voice be silenced.


Cover photo source: Karl Romano https://www.21global.ucsb.edu/global-e/february-2020/global-dynamics-authoritarian-populism