“Hay Salamat!” exclaimed Pinky (not her true name) after hearing the words, “Good morning ma’am? Unsay among ikatabang nimo mam?” from the other side of the line. Pinky was calling the numbers she chanced upon while browsing a social media platform that offers free online consultation.
Farming in the Philippines has been synonymous to landlessness, debt and drought. Government has always placed agriculture at the bottom of the country’s priorities. But the pandemic showed that in order to survive a lockdown, accessing and securing food is essential. It is ironic then, how a country relying on its farmers for survival neglects its food security frontliners.
There could have been no better time to begin this column but now, no other way to begin but like this – a kind of exposé, an assertion, a kind of empowerment at the face of existing and impending terror in all its forms. By identifying and unpacking systemic injustices in different levels and contexts, I intend to incite to envision a kind of society stifled voices deserve. For one, where teachers’ labor is properly compensated and students are treated as thinking individuals who are capable of dissent without fear of being silenced.
The COVID-19 pandemic is every tyrant’s dream, to finally have a justification to implement the most repressive measures against its people, purportedly to contain the new and still incurable virus.
I cannot find the appropriate words to describe how our government is handling the crisis. It is a health issue to begin with. However, the response of the government, noted by its militaristic fashion, appears to be tangential and seemingly unresponsive to the situation.
I thought I was okay until the unlawful arrest of student protesters in Cebu brought back the pain and trauma that was just lying low while on lockdown. Suddenly, I was racked with a deep cry that struggled to surface out as I tried to calm my shaken nerves.
Another time bomb ticking before us in this COVID-19 pandemic is our food supply. There is looming hunger as our agricultural system remains unsustainable, with its being export-oriented and import-dependent.
We assail this brazen affront against the very core of our humanity, the freedom of the press, and our right to free expression. It is an attempt to maim us, to silence our protestations, our very right to seek redress from an administration that does not respect its own.
“An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws.” – Thomas Paine, Dissertation on First Principles of Government, 1795
The narrative that people with critical opinions on the inept government’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic wishes the government to fail is utterly wrong, absurd, and narrow. No one wishes the government to fail for the simplest reason – no one in his/her rightful mind wishes to die.