[Intro: 11:25 | Outro: 56:58 | Book Pre-sale: http://bit.ly/ORBITgr]
In this episode, I speak with Filipino citizen and activist Ja Reyalidad from his residence in Manila. We discuss the current situation in the Philippines in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the nation undergoes a national lockdown.
As Ja explains, large segments of the Filipino population, particularly in the crowded metropolitan areas of the nation (like Manila), are facing staggering levels of "involuntary hunger" as the nation grapples with the outbreak of COVID-19. Very little is being done to aid the most affected (the working class and poor), as social distancing measures are imposed, domestic travel is severely limited, and testing kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) is being hoarded by the political and economic elites. To make matters even worse, President Duterte "took to the airwaves with a chilling warning for his citizens: Defy the lockdown orders again and the police will shoot you dead."
"I will not hesitate. My orders are to the police and military, as well as village officials, if there is any trouble, or occasions where there's violence and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead," he said in a mix of Filipino and English in the televised address. "Do not intimidate the government. Do not challenge the government. You will lose." (https://cbsn.ws/2RC8M94)
Ja fears, rightfully, that through a combination of strict government crackdowns on dissent and lack of essential supplies like testing kits, PPE, and food due to corruption and government hoarding, will culminate in martial law — an essential step toward a fully-fledged dictatorship under Duterte.
“On March 23, Duterte put to Congress the erroneously titled “Bayanihan Act of 2020”. The word ‘bayanihan’ means community assistance or ‘communitarian’ and the spirit of ‘bayanihan’ means assistance given voluntarily and without any monetary consideration by a member of the community. The title itself is fake, a lie. Nowhere in the bill does the spirit of ‘bayanihan’ prevail. The doctors, nurses, health workers, grocery employees, transport workers and all the frontliners who are heading the fight against COVID19 are not empowered in this bill — instead it extends more power to Duterte, the bureaucracy and his minions. This bill is sinister in many ways, as it aims to give wide powers to a president who’s proven to being incompetent in dealing with the pandemic.” (https://bit.ly/2XvM2vg)
In spite of this, Ja is engaging in mutual aid in his community, working to provide food and resources to his community in this time of dire struggle. Ja discusses this and more in this interview.
- Read ‘Philippines: The Duterte regime and the COVID-19 pandemic — the case of a weak but authoritarian state’ at Links: https://bit.ly/2XvM2vg
- The song featured in this episode is “Fever” by Psalm Trees from the album 1 Am. Study Session: https://youtu.be/Aje_kDcUEQo
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