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By Alexandra Sternlicht

Rodrigo Duterte

Topline: With coronavirus cases rising to 2,633 in the Philippines with 107 deaths, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that the military will kill quarantine violators on the spot, an approach similar to his punishment for drug users and dealers, as the country’s healthcare system becomes completely overwhelmed.

  • As 6 million Filipinos still practice open defecation and 20% of the population lacks access to basic sanitation facilities, making social distancing and COVID-19 cleanliness measures nearly impossible to universalize, according to CNN Philippines. 
  • “It is getting worse. So once again I’m telling you the seriousness of the problem and that you must listen. My orders to the police and military…if  there is trouble and there’s an occasion that they fight back and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead. Is that understood? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I will bury you,” said President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday of people who fail to adhere to the lockdown mandate.
  • Until COVID-19, the Philippines’ economy was growing at 6%, expected to outpace that of China, India and Indonesia this year, according to Bloomberg.
  • CNN reports a lack of PPE for healthcare workers in the Philippines: with 17 coronavirus medics dead and 600 in quarantine, some are sewing their own masks, or reusing single-use equipment.
  • Duterte has previously come under international scrutiny for having vigilante and armed forces murder drug users and dealers in the street, closely resembling his approach for punishing quarantine violators.
  • The Financial Times reported “subhuman” conditions for those employed at an Amazon call center, who are faced with the choice between no work or 24/7 lock-in at their work facility. 

Key Background: There have been over a million cases of coronavirus around the world. The Philippines saw its first case in January and implemented a social distancing mandate in early March with over 50 million living in lockdown. Duterte rose to popularity for his extremist stance in the Country’s drug war, with the policy drugs users and dealers should be killed on the spot, resulting in over 12,000 deaths according to the Human Rights Watch; however, the government cited 82% of respondents to a Social Weather Survey as approving the President’s approach, according to the Washington Post.

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