Rights group Karapatan called on candidates for the 2022 Philippine elections to lay down their platforms and their positions on issues that affect Filipinos, especially poor communities.
“We challenge candidates and aspirants to clearly state their positions now, and present their plans on how they will address issues and problems that Filipinos face,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay in a statement on Tuesday, October 19.
“First and foremost, we ask them, how will they address the people’s needs during the pandemic? How do they respect and protect the rights of the people amid this crisis?” she said.
Palabay said that amid the easing of restrictions and the opening up of the economy, the Filipino people remain in dire need of an “effective and rights-based pandemic response.”
“The people do not only want or expect one-time assistance, but a concrete and comprehensive program that will address the people’s needs amid the pandemic,” she said.
She noted that most of the proposals for an effective pandemic response were shrugged off by the administration of President Rodrigo.
“Worse, it used and exploited the pandemic to silence the people and trample upon our rights,” said Palabay.
Karapatan challenged those running for election to present “a clear-cut and comprehensive program that will include the long-overdue needs for effective and adequate mass testing, contact tracing, vaccination, and economic recovery that will benefit most especially the rural and urban poor.”
The group issued the challenge in light of a recent survey done by pollster Social Weather Stations that showed nine out of 10 Filipinos are still worried they might get COVID-19.
The survey also revealed that more Filipinos fear that “the worst is yet to come.”
The Philippines has recently been ranked last in Bloomberg’s monthly survey in COVID-19 resilience, citing poor scores in the roll-out of vaccines.
“We should demand, advocate and work for a pandemic response that advances the rights of the people to health, livelihood, basic freedoms and rights, at all costs, and does not trample upon the rights of the people,” said Palabay.
The group said that aside from concrete plans to address the pandemic, candidates should also present their views and positions on corruption and human rights violations.
“We want to hear from the candidates, will they go after those who steal the people’s money, or simply tell us to move on?” said Palabay in the statement.
The group called on the public to make these issues, among many others, to be at the center of the discussion in the coming elections.