Tokhang under COVID-19: We need mass testing, not mass arresting!

Under the heat of the pandemic, it is no longer a question that we need an immediate medical solution for the viral COVID-19; however, the answer that was given to us was somewhat far-fetched and unheeding. Could it be a nonchalant attempt to cover up the incapability of the government to answer using the proper methods?

Instead of massive testing and contact-tracing, we have been given a Tokhang-style house-to-house search by the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año. This is to retrieve COVID-19 asymptomatics that are on house isolation and transfer them to isolation facilities. However, how would we effectively take control of the situation through militarization if we do not know who to transfer to isolation facilities? Were massive testing already given to these target urban poor communities? Or is this just an obvious mal-justification to impose the power of the military?

In addition, one was not born yesterday to know that state forces have been swinging by their fully-fledged bestowed power by the executive; preying on the poor and arresting whomever they think is worth putting in jail. One of the biggest concerns is if this would be an Oplan Tokhang 2.0 similar to the events that transpired during the first wave of Extra-judicial Killings. The proclamation of such method is announced days before the official implementation of the Anti-Terror Act; leading the public to speculate that it was not a mere coincidence, but a timely excuse to rein terror over the masses. Enabling of excessive powers for state forces could lead into a troubling menace — a clear infringement of human rights.

Once again, the Guild calls on the Duterte Administration to handle priorities and to tend accordingly to the urgent problems that we have with complete precision and reasonable methods. Instead of prioritizing the medical front-liners, testing kits to be used for massive testing, and adding of more hospitals; it is hopeless to hear that militarization and house-to-house arrests are the answers to the fatal questions that we have.

One should know by now that the constitution and law should not be bent in order to bring terror to the people and assist those who are hefty with power; if it will bend, it should be for the poor, proletariats, and oppressed. The draconian administration should know better than to use trepidation and gun power in order to control a medical situation. We need mass testing and not mass arrest!




College Editors Guild of the Philippines

The oldest, broadest, and only-existing intercollegiate alliance of student publications in the Asia-Pacific | Est. 1931 #DefendPressFreedom #EndStateFascism