The Duterte regime’s cruel embrace of COVID-authoritarianism

Covid-19 continues to fill the news, while the horrors inflicted by pandemic panic are largely ignored. Perhaps nowhere is this truer than with America’s largest former territory and Asia’s first democracy, the Philippines. There President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in all but name and established himself as dictator of the world’s 12th largest country. Soldiers patrol the streets on foot and in armored personnel carriers to enforce what’s probably the fiercest and longest-lasting lockdown in the world – and with no end in sight.

But relax. It’s okay, because it’s in the name of protecting his people from the dreaded virus. It’s a Covidocracy! And one that could not be possible without the complicity of lending agencies and donors from around the world who appear to care nothing about the Filipino people…

Yet he waited for the cover of the Covid-19 pandemic to establish a full dictatorship. He probably predicted that to the extent there would be world criticism of his handling of the crisis, it would say it was merely errors in combatting the “greatest health disaster” of our time. If so, he was correct. Nobody tells you, notwithstanding readily accessible data, that while the government is destroying the country, the virus here is a pussycat. The death rate is merely 5% that of the U.S. (Yes, including the usual homicides, accidents et al. declared as coronavirus.) It doesn’t begin to approach that of tuberculosis, for which there are both cures and a vaccine.

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