BAGUIO CITY — After the widespread public criticism over the mishandling of the threat of the novel coronavirus (nCoV), the Duterte government is now in full defensive mode, according to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) – Ilocos.

In a statement, the NDFP-Ilocos spokesperson Rosa Guidon slammed the Philippine government for not focusing on how to keep the virus at bay and serve the citizens. She said that instead of ensuring that the government is on top of the situation, President Duterte is busy threatening critics. Guidon also expressed great concern over the president’s declaration of the casualties as a “non-issue.”

The NDFP spokesperson hit the government’s delays in issuing a travel ban to and from any point in China, where the virus originated. The travel ban materialized, but only to and from the Wuhan region, the outbreak’s epicenter. Air travel continues to and from other parts of China.

The three confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV, among them a casualty, were all from Wuhan. They arrived in the Philippines by way of Hong Kong. NDFP-Ilocos urged the administration to impose travel bans that include mainland China, including Hong Kong, and Macau.

“Duterte does not understand that his ill-preparedness and belittlement of the virus itself is the cause for the people’s almost panic,” Guidon said.

According to her, Duterte acted like “a circus soothsayer and not the highest official of an entire nation” when the president predicted the disease would “die a natural death.”

She also slammed the efforts of Duterte’s “trusted lapdog,” Senator Bong Go, to discredit the critical arguments made about the apparent mishandling of the nCoV issue.

“He wanted to quarantine a wide range of individuals—from those that justifiably called out the Duterte regime for its relaxed approach to the crisis to those who called for Duterte’s ouster,” Guidon added.

She also noted, “neoliberal policies that undermined the healthcare system are the same policies causing Duterte to tread carefully to maintain a profitable friendship with the Chinese government, at the expense of the Filipino people’s lives and wellbeing.”

The statement was Guidon’s response to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s refusal to admit the country’s weak health system. She underscored that leading causes of deaths in the country remains to be curable diseases.

The NDFP spokes said that neoliberal policies, especially in times of disasters, would lead the Philippines to accrue more debts. She said the government would pay the loans by imposing more taxes and patrimonial assets as collaterals.

In light of these concerns, the NDFP in Ilocos resolved to “continue to link arms with the rest of the nation in exposing and opposing neoliberalism that murders and displaces the people in ways more cruel than nCoV itself.”

The Philippines has three recorded cases of the 02019-nCoV, one of which had already died. According to the Department of Health Region 1 Director Valeriano Lopez, none of the cases is in the Ilocos Region, despite social media activity suggesting the contrary. However, they are currently monitoring three patients in a government hospital in the region. He said they are awaiting laboratory test results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to confirm whether these patients are afflicted. # nordis.net / featured photo from NDFP website

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