Last April 12, 2020, Teresita Sy-Coson, vice-chair of the largest corporate conglomerate in the Philippines, SM Investments Corp. appealed to the government to allow all industries to resume 50 percent of their operating capacity even as the country remained on tight guard against COVID-19. She argued that if “appropriate medical precautions” were implemented, such as ensuring the widespread availability of test kits, masks, disinfecting measures in crowded places, social distancing, and sanitation safeguards, then businesses should be allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
Sy-Coson further stated that “employment is key to the health of families, allowing parents to put food on their table”. This statement is in line with the proposals of economists from the Foundation for Economic Freedom. She proposed 18 conditions with the conglomerate’s proposal including the following: prohibiting car-sharing except for passengers coming from the same origin, allowing public transport with disinfection measures, removing checkpoints, and allowing factories and offices to reopen with staggered working hours if necessary.
While some conditions are acceptable and will benefit the people at large (such as prohibiting car-sharing and allowing public transport for essential workers), allowing businesses and factories to reopen this early during the lockdown will lead to the eradication of the gains made in “flattening the curve” of infections.
The proposal to reopen businesses contradicts the World Health Organization’s advice for the Philippines. According to WHO Pacific Regional Director Dr. Takeshi Kasai, “the Philippines is not forced to undergo a large-scale community quarantine precisely because of the lockdown”. He then stated that “the government should try to stay in this stage as much as possible” citing the need to “flatten the curve” of infections. Similar sentiments were aired by UP Executive Vice President Teodoro Herbosa Jr., though favoring a “modified community quarantine” with “offices and schools closed”. It must also be noted that mass testing for persons under monitoring and patients under investigation had only recently begun, and there may be thousands more unreported cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines.
This crisis has revealed to the world the truth of economic growth, that all social wealth is created by the workers and the toiling masses.
It is clear that SM Investments Corp. and other business conglomerates are panicking at the sight of their profits and imaginary stocks dropping during this crisis. In a bid to continue their endless pursuit for profit at the expense of the toil, sweat, time, and often, blood of their workers, capitalists are foaming at the mouth, lobbying for an abrupt and deadly end to the lockdown.
While it is true that this crisis and the community quarantine has tanked our economy, and has hit the masses the hardest, the government must do everything possible to “flatten the curve” while prioritizing the welfare of the poor and working class.
SPARK dares the government to ensure that hospitals and our frontliners are capacitated to conduct mass testing, that a truly pro-poor and pro-marginalized community quarantine is implemented, that families have enough food on their tables, and lastly that existing social amelioration programs are drastically expanded rather than being scaled down. SPARK also calls on the government to prioritize community and medical solutions, instead of intimidation of critics and those who are merely trying to survive in a time of crisis.
If they continue to fail to do any of these, the working class and the toiling masses will gradually be forced to rise up in ever greater numbers amid hunger and crippling poverty. Contrary to what our elites think, a hungry people amid elite neglect is a recipe for revolution. SPARK therefore calls on fellow youth and all progressive sectors to join the masses in their fight not just for survival, but also for a world where we are no longer beholden to the dictates of the elite.
Free mass testing now! Pagkain para sa lahat! Economic aid, ngayon na!
SINGILIN ANG PALPAK AT PABAYANG GOBYERNONG DUTERTE!
Garcia, M. A. (2020, April 5). Quarantine extension would flatten COVID-19 curve – UP team. Retrieved April 13, 2020, from https://www.msn.com/…/quarantine-extension-woul…/ar-BB12c1Ac
Dumlao-Abadilla, D. (2020, April 12). Sy-Coson: Allow 50% business operations. Retrieved April 13, 2020, from https://business.inquirer.net/…/sy-coson-allow-50-business-…
Ferreras, V. (2020, April 8). Lockdown saves PH from large-scale community outbreak, WHO says. Retrieved April 13, 2020, from https://cnnphilippines.com/…/WHO-PH-lockdown-prevent-large-…
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