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It’s about time we put a stop to the “pasaway” narrative

It’s about time we put a stop to the “pasaway” narrative
Gabbi Garcia and Khalil Ramos for Scout x Globe

A caution to citizens: The Philippine National Police (PNP) has said that there will be no warnings issued before arrests, after following a stricter enhanced community quarantine protocol.

According to this report, police officers will directly apprehend violators of the lockdown. This comes as Duterte’s one solution to citizens ignoring the recent regulations. “I’m just asking for your disiplina. Kasi pag ayaw ninyo, ayaw ninyong maniwala, magtake-over ang military pati ang pulis. I’m ordering them now to be ready. Sila na. Parang martial law na rin. Mamili kayo,” the president said during a press conference last Apr. 16.

“Ang emphasis naman doon is implementation talaga ng rules. Pero pag sinabi namang martial law, siguro the President would like to emphasize na we really make some arrests. Dito kase sa nirereport kong 130,000, around 96,000 were just warned,” PNP chief Police Gen. Archie Gamboa says. “Siguro magpakita dapat ang publiko na mag-behave sila para hindi ito matuloy. Kasi kung ito ay matutuloy, it will really be a full implementation of the law. Wala na tayong warning, diretso na tayo sa aresto.”

The PNP has threatened a “massive” arrest if violations continue, with Gamboa having ordered the NCR regional police to look for detention facilities specifically for these violators.

One narrative that continues to spread is that Filipino citizens are inherently bound to break rules with their lack of discipline, otherwise known as the so-called “pasaway” rhetoric. One group that refutes this is Karapatan, an alliance for the advancement of people’s rights.

Read more: For us working class, ‘social distancing’ doesn’t cut it

The group calls for medical instead of military solutions, implying that citizens flocking outside their homes isn’t born out of some innate stubbornness, but a necessity due to their standing in society. “This rhetoric of blaming people’s supposed lack of discipline to justify the imposition of more repressive policies misses the point of why people, especially the poor, find it so hard to abide with quarantine measures,” their statement reads. “People are going out of their homes to flock to markets or to continue their livelihood because of their precarious living conditions caused by years of government neglect and anti-poor policies. They are not receiving sufficient aid, if they even receive anything at all, and now, the government is more intent in criminalizing and penalizing the poor for their poverty.”

During times like these, it’s best we remove ourselves from the privileged bubbles that we’re in—and the same goes for our government. Most of those in poverty don’t choose to step out of their homes to endanger their health. For most, it’s a necessity is brought about by a lack of choice. To call them “pasaway” may well be ignoring their plight.

Read more:
Duterte warns of martial law and calls on hospitals to improvise amid pandemic
Compared to neighbor countries, the PH is handling COVID-19 terribly
The Greenhills hostage-taking’s real villain is poor labor conditions

Art by Kristine Paz-Yap

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