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A million Covid cases

Cartoon by Crisby Delgado, PUP/Kodao

Despite having one of the longest and harshest lock downs in the world, the Philippines breached one million Covid cases on Monday, April 26. This means the most number of new cases per and the most number of new deaths per million people in South East Asia. The Philippines also has the second worst number of fully vaccinated people by share of the population in the region. #

QC houses demolished amid strict Covid lockdown

[UPDATED, 7:00 AM, April 6, 2021] Amid an extended round of the latest Covid pandemic lockdown, several houses had been demolished today along Maginoo Street, Barangay Pinyahan in Quezon City.

Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) reported that elderly residents who lived in the demolished houses have been forced out on the streets, raising fears they may later be arrested by the police for curfew and lock down violations.

Eleven families were affected and no relocation has yet been offered to them, Kadamay told Kodao.

Private claimant-couple Nicolo and Luzviminda Junsay led the demolition, Kadamay said.

The group claimed the demolition is illegal and that barangay officials had no prior knowledge of the incident.

Kadamay said that prior to today’s incident, the affected residents were being forced to sign certain documents but no court order and notice have been presented before the demolition team swooped down on the community.

Demolition along Maginoo Street, Brgy. Pinyahan, Quezon City. (Kadamay photos)

“While we are under the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), the demolition pushed through. No notice, no relief goods, no assistance had been given to those affected and straight out on the streets they went,” Kadamay said in an alert.

The group blamed both the National Housing Authority and President Rodrigo Duterte as promoters of demolitions.

“They order us to stay at home while new coronavirus cases are on the rise, but they continue to endanger people. Those affected have lost their houses and are likely to be arrested while they are out on the streets,” Kadamay said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Curfew violator dies after ‘cruel police punishment’

[UPDATED, 7:08 AM, April 6, 2021] A man died in General Trias, Cavite after being punished by the police for violating the pandemic lockdown curfew, an activist organization reported.

The League of Filipino Students (LFS)-University of the Philippines in Los Baños chapter said a certain Darren Manaog Peñaredondo died on Easter Sunday, April 4, as a result of being ordered to perform about 300 cycles of an exercise routine.

The LFS said the victim stepped out of their house Thursday evening to buy drinking water but was apprehended by Barangay Tejero security personnel and turned over to the police

Facebook page Go Cavite also reported the incident, saying Peñaredondo and fellow arrestees were ordered by the police to perform 100 “pumping” exercises but were told to repeat them twice as they were not in sync.

“Pumping” is a series of punishing exercises that may include air squats, sit-ups and push ups.

The incident happened at the vicinity of the General Trias Municipal Hall, Go Cavite said.

Peñaredondo’s death was first reported by his cousin Adrian Luceña who also wrote on his Facebook page the victim was allowed to come home on Friday morning at about eight o’clock in the morning but already had difficulty walking.

“At dawn of Saturday, he (Peñaredondo) suffered repeated convulsions and was revived. But he eventually became comatose until he died at 10 o’clock (on Saturday evening),” Luceña wrote in Filipino.

Luceña added that Peñaredondo told him he collapsed several times as they were being punished.

He said they will demand justice for Peñaredondo’s death.

Luceña’s post has gone viral on various social media platforms.

A video taken by the victim’s common law wife Reichelyn Balce was posted by GMA Network showing Peñaredondo unable to stand up and rolling on the floor in agony.

The news report said the victim was taken to a hospital where he died.

The LFS said the victim’s death was a case of police brutality.

The Gen. Trias police chief Lt. Col. Lieutenant Colonel Marlo Solero meanwhile denied they punish curfew violators and said they only lecture those arrested.

He added the police only order some sort of community service to those they have apprehended for curfew violations.

Gen. Trias Mayor Antonio Ferrer said an investigation has been launched. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

BAYAN, ipinaliwanag ang #DutertePalpak sa pandemya

Ipinaliwanag ni Renato Reyes, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), ang aniya’y maraming kapalpakan ng gubyernong Rodrigo Duterte sa isang taong pagharap ng bansa sa pandemyang coronavirus. Sa harap ng Commission on Human Rights sa Quezon City noong Marso 17, 2021, inilahad ni Reyes ang kawalan ng maayos na sistema sa pagharap sa pandemya na nagdulot ng isang taong nagdurusa ng mamamayan sa mga hakbangin ng pamahalaan. Kabilang dito ang matinding pagbagsak ng ekonomiya, malawakang pagkawala ng trabaho, walang sapat na ayuda sa mga maralita, at patuloy pagdami ng nagkakasakit ng COVID – 19.

Lockdown learning: Making education accessible despite the pandemic

This five-episode podcast was produced by UrbanisMO.PH and Young Public Servants with support from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Philippines, International Center for Innovation, Transformation, and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov) and PCIJ.

BY AARON MALLARI / Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

What’s the big picture? Education stakeholders agree that learning must continue, even through blended learning, despite the Covid-19 outbreak. Teachers and learners, however, have to contend with problems in internet access and more needs to be done to ensure that no student is left behind. Blended or distance learning also presents opportunities for innovation in instruction.

Why it matters: Continued learning can help mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the development of young children, who are forced to stay at home.

What are the facts? Dr. Grace Zozobrado-Hahn, a physician and Steiner-Waldorf Education practitioner based in Palawan, says children face their own set of challenges during the pandemic, while Regina Sibal, former principal of Miriam College Grade School and Far Eastern University Senior High School, outlines measures that the government and the education sector need to take to ensure continued access to education. Elsa Magtibay, a school administrator at Xavier School in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, points to opportunities to improve educational delivery.

The bottomline: Experts agree: Education must adapt to the so-called ‘new normal,’ which entails the government to take the lead and support teachers and parents as they take on bigger roles.

Balik-pasada at ayuda, hiling ng mga tsuper

Ginanap ngayong araw, Hunyo 27, ang Araw ng Pakikiisa para sa mga Jeepney Driver. Nagkaroon ng magkakahiwalay na pagbibigay ng ayuda sa iba’t ibang pondohan ng mga tsuper sa Metro Manila.

Pangunahing tinulungan ng Bayang Matulungin, isang proyekto ng Bayan Muna at PagAsa, ang mga tsuper sa Project 3, Quezon City, Samson Road, Caloocan City, at Rizal Ave., Manila. Nasa mahigit isang daan ang kanilang natulungan.

Panawagan ng mga tsuper na ibalik na sila sa pamamasada at bigyan ng ayuda ang bawat isa. Lampas 100 araw na ang lockdown, ganun din ang kanilang tigil-pasada. Kasama ang kanilang pamilya sa mga apektado ng kanilang kawalang-trabaho. (Bidyo nila Jo Maline Mamangun, Jola Mamangun, at Reggie Mamangun)

Juana Change impersonates NCRPO chief at ‘Grand Mañanita’

Performance artist Mae Paner, also known as Juana Change, impersonates Philippine National Police-National Capital Region Police Office chief Major General Debold Sinas at last Friday’s Grand Mañanita at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

Sinas was in hot water last month after celebrating his birthday party inside a police camp he later tried to justify as a surprise “mañita” given him by police officers under his command.

Critics say Sinas’ party, complete with cake, catered food, beer, flowers and a live band, was in violation of coronavirus lockdown protocols the general himself vowed to implement strictly.

In protest of the impending signing into law of the controversial anti-terrorism bill, activists named their protest event at UP as a “Grand Mañanita” in sly reference to the general’s birthday party.

These officials flouted lockdown rules in Myanmar, Malaysia, and the Philippines

Arrest a community volunteer, then throw yourself a party

By Mong Palatino/Global Voices

Lockdown restrictions were enforced by many countries across the world to contain the spread of COVID-19, and Southeast Asia has hosted some of the harshest.

Most quarantine protocols require residents to stay at home, while mass gatherings are typically prohibited.

In Malaysia and the Philippines a particularly strict enforcement of these measures saw thousands of arrests and heavy penalties for violations from March onwards.

But a number of government officials were caught violating the very quarantine protocols they were supposed to oversee.

Global Voices looked into some of these cases, and their outcomes, which highlight how rules apply to ordinary citizens more than to powerful politicians.

We also considered a case in Myanmar that showed how religious discrimination can have a bearing on the application of the law.

Malaysia: ‘Disparity in sentencing’

Malaysia has arrested almost 30,000 people for violating its Movement Control Order (MCO). Harsh implementation was cited by authorities as necessary to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases.

But the public noticed that several politicians flouted the guidelines. The Centre For Independent Journalism compiled documented many of these instances. In one case, Deputy Health Minister Noor Azmi Ghazali posted a now-deleted Facebook photograph of him and another elected representative sharing a meal with about 30 students. Deputy Rural Development Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohamad meanwhile enjoyed an impromptu birthday party. Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohamad claimed that the party was a surprise sprung on him by friends and said he was unable to send them away for reasons of courtesy.

In many cases politicians and their families who got charged for failing to practice social distancing measures were slapped with light fines. Ordinary citizens, in contrast got maximum penalty fines and even jail time.

This prompted the Malaysian Bar to issue a statement about the ‘disparity in sentencing’:

The Malaysian Bar is disturbed by accounts of excessive sentences and cases of disparity in sentencing between ordinary people and those with influence, in relation to persons who have violated the MCO.

We acknowledge that the range of sentences handed down may well be within the ambit of the law, but the power of the Court to hand down sentences must be exercised judiciously in order to avoid any travesty of justice.

Philippines: ‘Mañanita’, not a birthday party’

The Philippines is cited by the U.N. Human Rights Office as another country that relied on a “highly militarized response” to deal with the pandemic. More than 120,000 people have been arrested for curfew and quarantine transgressions. Checkpoint security measures have led to numerous human rights violations.

But the government’s credibility in enforcing the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) guidelines suffered a tremendous blow after it was reported that Major General Debold Sinas, the director of the National Capital Region Police Office, benefited from a birthday bash organized by subordinates.

Sinas insisted that there was no birthday party but only a ‘Mañanita’ — a police tradition that features an early morning serenade for the chief. But the public backlash forced him to issue an apology.

Critics pointed out that Sinas and his team have enthusiastically arrested activists and community workers organizing relief activities during the lockdown. They blasted the general for holding festivities at a time when millions have lost jobs and income due to anti-pandemic measures.

Sinas was later charged for violating ECQ rules but has so far managed to retain his position. His case is still pending in the court.

A retired military officer, Ramon Farolan, advised Sinas to step down:

Your apology would take on greater meaning if you step down from your position. Accept that you made a poor judgment call, showing insensitivity to the plight of our less fortunate. Don’t wait for higher authorities to decide your case.

Myanmar: Religious event or pagoda renovation?

In Myanmar, Yangon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein and Naing Ngan Lin, chairman of the COVID-19 Control and Emergency Response Committee, are both accused of breaking the law by attending a Botataung Pagoda festival while the country is observing a ban on religious gatherings.

Photos uploaded on the chief minister’s Facebook page showed dozens of individuals congregating at a riverside site to observe a Buddhist rite.

Social media reactions focused on the clear breach of government guidelines, which include a prohibition on gatherings of four or more people.

Phyo Min Thein denied that the activity was a ceremony, insisting instead that it was a pagoda renovation and that the other people in the photographs were mere onlookers.

Many commented that while the government has been consistent in jailing Muslims and Christians for holding religious activities during lockdown restrictions, it has been less decisive in probing activities connected to Buddhism — the country’s most widely observed religion.

Kyaw Phyo Tha, news editor of the English edition of The Irrawaddy, criticized the chief minister’s actions:

Whatever the case, the chief minister’s actions were unacceptable. They have put the Union government in an awkward position, as its orders have been undermined by a senior official. Due to U Phyo Min Thein’s shortsightedness, Myanmar will have to pay the price internationally by being accused of religious discrimination.

Phyo Min Thein may yet pay for his lockdown scandal — a growing number of Yangon regional legislators are seeking to file an impeachment case against him for breaking the rules. #

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Kodao publishes Global Voices reports as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Busina para sa balik-pasada, isinagawa ng PISTON

Isinagawa ngayong umaga sa iba’t ibang lugar sa Metro Manila ang Busina para sa Balik-Pasada ng mga dyipni sa pangunguna ng Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide o PISTON. Matapos ang dalawa’t-kalahating buwan na hindi nakapaghanap-buhay dahil sa COVID-19 lockdown, tinututulan ng mga tsuper ang desisyon ng pamahalaan na ipagbawal ang pamamasada ng mga tradisyunal na dyip.

Ayon sa PISTON, isang kahig, isang tuka ang mga drayber ng dyip na lalong magugutom kung hindi pa rin papayagang mamasada. Iginiit rin ng grupo na mahihirapan ang mga manggagawang makabalik sa trabaho kung walang dyip na masasakyan.

‘Farmers are seeking for urgent production subsidy’

“Farmers are seeking for urgent production subsidy to aid them in cropping and food production. However, DA chose to channel the budget to projects that are vulnerable to corruption.

The projects listed by DA under ALPAS-COVID all have lump sum budget without specific details on the actual implementation and target beneficiaries. We demand full transparency on the utilization of funds as well as the list of beneficiaries who have received cash aid, loans, and other assistance from DA and its agencies.”

Danilo Ramos
Chairperson,
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

Carlo Francisco