Church leaders ask President Duterte to resign over Covid-19 failed leadership

A month into the Luzon-wide lockdown, two prominent clergy leaders of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) have asked for the resignation of President Rodrigo Duterte from office.

Rev. Noel Dacuycuy, chairperson of the Council of Priests (COP), and Rev. Jonash Joyohoy, head of the National Priests Organization (NPO), said in a joint statement on April 15 that Duterte needs to step down from the presidency over his failed leadership in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

“For a botched response to COVID-19 and a consistent failure to prioritize the nation at many turns in his presidency, we see no reason for President Duterte to continue heading the Philippines. We now join the clamor for his immediate resignation. We ask the President to hand his position over to someone more capable of leading the nation out of this trouble. Otherwise, the COVID-19 crisis could just plunge our country into depths we cannot rise from,” the statement read.

The statement cited the president’s shortcomings, despite being given special powers by the Congress and Senate, to institute measures that would arrest the infections and rescue those who have been most vulnerable to Covid-19 and its impacts.

The priests have accused Duterte of shoving the great need for medical and humanitarian help in the margins. They said that the government should have instead beefed up its treatment and testing efforts and adopted measures that provide the poor with relief and social services that make them resilient to the crisis.

Lamenting Duterte’s inaction to roll-out a comprehensive medical solution, the two priests said that his neglect for the nation’s welfare has deprived the health sector of the necessary support that have left front-liners, patients and their communities ill-equipped and immobilized in the battle against the disease.

The statement has also criticized the president’s militarist approach to the pandemic. “The crux of the response is still military, police and other enforcers of public order sentinelling our neighborhoods, a response that has banked on brute force, manhandling and arrests. This has inevitably muffled legitimate demands from social activists, people’s organizations and affected communities,” it said.

“We hold President Duterte accountable for the nightmarish situation our nation now finds itself in. COVID-19 is more than a health crisis already. Now, we are also suffering political and socioeconomic crises of unequalled proportions. This complex crisis we are mired in is the making of a failed leadership,” the statement further read.

Click for COP-NPO Joint Statement “Covid-19: A Crisis of Failed Leadership”

(Photo from Rappler)

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