#OustDuterte (Duterte expelled) became a trending topic on Twitter when Filipino netizens expressed outrage over the apparent indifference and lack of decisive action by the government of the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, in response to the coronavirus crisis (COVID -19) in 2019.
When the threat of COVID-19 caused the uncontrolled purchase of facial masks, alcohol disinfectants and hand sanitizers, many people began to notice Duterte's silence during the crisis. The presidential spokesman, Sal Panelo, said as an apology that the president was reading in his hometown, Davao. He also rejected the idea that the Government provided free surgical masks to vulnerable communities, claiming that there is no longer a supply of masks. Upon hearing the reports of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the country, Duterte was also criticized for not recognizing the urgency of the situation when his personal assistant, Senator Bong Go, announced that the president would meet with medical experts and officials from Public health after a week.
Public concern for COVID-19 is heightened by the awareness of the unfortunate state of the country's public health system, which has suffered successive budget cuts that have deprived much of the poor majority of access to free public health services . These are some tweets with the #OustDuterte tag:
To those saying that nCov got too much hype here than other countries, that people are creating panic and criticizing the gov't for lack of action: We are not China. We are not Canada. We are not Japan. We are in the Philippines and WE. ARE. POOR Let that sink in. #OustDuterte
– Joms (@jomszj) January 31, 2020
To those who say that the nCov has much more publicity here than in other countries, that people are creating panic and criticizing the lack of government measures: we are not China. We are not Canada. We are not Japan. We are Philippines and WE ARE POOR. Let that be understood. Expel Duterte.
Hello! Cancer patient here.
Did you know that ever since the Duterte admin cut the healthcare and PCSO budget, chemotherapy funding for people is now rendered insufficient?
This admin is literally killing cancer patients! #OustDuterte
– Maurice Joseph Almadrones and Maglaquí #OustDuterte (@TheCatSaysMao) January 31, 2020
Hi! Here cancer patient.
Did you know that since the Duterte administration cut the budget to public health and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, government lottery agency, chemotherapy funds are now insufficient?
This administration is literally killing cancer patients! Expel Duterte.
– Carlos Concepcion (@ CarlosAlmedaCo1) February 1, 2020
How the facial mask is worn during epidemics (drawing by ZACH). Expel Duterte.
– Matthew Marcelo (@mashumarusero) January 31, 2020
Section 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill in it the awareness of health..
Oh look! Surely the Duterte administration is violating the Constitution, again. Expel Duterte
How to prevent Corona Virus?
1. Proper hygiene
2. Stay indoors as much as possible
3. Use face masks daily
– J Tuan Song (@songmainhoe) January 31, 2020
How to prevent coronavirus?
1) proper hygiene
2) be indoors as much as possible
3) use the mask daily
4) expel Duterte
– Philip Jamilla (@pmjamilla) January 31, 2020
Expel Duterte is the number one trend in the Philippines. Fight the real enemy. Rebelling is justified.
LOOK: DDS page expresses disgust over Duterte's inaction of the current health situation.
– Chad Booc ? (@KasamangChad) February 2, 2020
We are outraged at President Duterte's handling of this health emergency … He has put Filipinos at great risk!
LOOK: Duterte's death followers page expresses outrage over Duterte's inaction against the current health situation.
The climate is changing. ☔?⚡ Expel Duterte. Expulen to Duterte 2020. Coronavirus.
Since February 11, 2020, there have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines. One of these patients died, it was the first death from the COVIS-19 virus outside of China, the other two have recovered. The Philippines Department of Health investigated 382 patients, of whom 266 remain hospitalized and 111 have been discharged under daily surveillance for symptoms. Health officials also said that 59 people close to the three cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the country are now also suspected of carrying the infection.
Duterte's apparent initial reluctance to take drastic travel restriction measures also consolidated the public feeling that his administration prioritized relations with the Chinese Government over the welfare of the Filipinos. On January 29, Duterte himself insisted that the entry of flights from China will not be temporarily prohibited, they say it would be unfair for the neighbor of the northern Philippines: “Not yet at this time. In fact, there is no known transmission from human to human (in) China. ” Prior to this, the Secretary of Health, Francisco Duque, also expressed his reluctance to temporarily prevent travelers from coming from the country of origin of the virus due to “diplomatic repercussions” of any such action.
Duterte was slow to yield to public pressure to impose a ban on travelers who came from Hubei province in China. That was then expanded to include mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. It also included Taiwan despite protests that the latter is an independent nation and is not part of the People's Republic of China.
Undoubtedly, fear of the COVID-19 virus has unearthed deeply entrenched racial prejudices among Filipinos, surprisingly, the Duterte administration began to criticize the “xenophobia” of the Chinese people to justify the Government's displicent response to the crisis.
Many netizens have pointed out that Duterte's slow response to the COVID-19 outbreak reminds them of the government's incompetence in the management of recent calamities such as the explosion of the Taal volcano in January 2020. Duterte tried to cover his late public appearance after the eruption making its characteristic puns, this time about eating volcanic ash and urinating on the volcano.
The Duterte administration has been particularly aggressive about the strict control of online narrative, with trolls, bots and computer attacks on critics to manipulate public opinion. It is feared that feeling online extends to street protests. For example, the outrage over the anomalous Priority Development Assistance Fund during President Benigno Aquino's term led to protests of the Million People March.
Civil society groups have begun to use the label “Expel Duterte” as a unified appeal for street demonstrations on February 25, the anniversary of the popular uprising of the Popular Power that overthrew the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. They are denouncing corruption , incompetence, debt with foreign powers such as China, massive human rights violations and unjustified abuses of power that approach a full-blown dictatorship.
Check out Global Voices special coverage on the impact of Wuhan coronavirus.