- By MIOP
From the onset of COVID-19, it was obvious that the authoritarian government led by Rodrigo Duterte was not prioritizing the needs of Phillipino people. He ignored calls for a travel ban, lest the country lose out on any tourism revenue. And, while the pandemic called for health-related responses, like increased PPE and transportation for healthcare workers, Duterte’s administration responded instead with militaristic tactics, treating the virus like an enemy state. According to Local Autonomous Network (LAN), this is an attempt to secure power, rather than to keep anyone safe.
The anarchists involved in LAN were already not inclined to rely on Duerte’s regime, nor the prevailing capitalistic order. To do so begets a return to ‘normal’, and ‘normalcy’ means more of a structure that encourages selfishness and supremacy over cooperation. As with most anarchists, LAN sees many of the hardships under COVID-19 not as anomalous, but as agitations of structural injustice. For example, they cite Duerto’s ineffective aid to “no work, no pay” workers, such as street vendors or pedicab drivers, as an ignorance towards the needs of his own people. Those who have reacted to COVID-19 with selfishness are expressing a learned maladaptive - a symptom of a social order that impairs cooperation.
“Mutual aid is a natural action for a person,” says a collective member who helped Food Not Bombs hand out fresh soup. “Cooperation is an instinct.” Jean, who helped distribute rice around her community said, “this is not to show off that we want to be a hero, but [that] we are there to share what we have according to our capacity.” Chung, a pedicab driver, has been offering free rides to healthcare workers, as well as using his cart to distribute aid packages. These efforts belong to a complex network that looks to model cooperative living: community gardening, donation drives, food redistribution, and online classes for children and adults. All of this falls in-line with LAN, FNB and the Etniko Bandido Infoshop’s ongoing work; that is, community-building mutual aid that persists through foul and fair weather.
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