MANILA, Philippines — State peacekeepers will act when there is chaos or disorder amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s “shoot-to-kill” order against leftist groups and Luzon lockdown violators, the interagency task force on the government’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis said Thursday.
Despite the President’s shoot order, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases said the COVID-19 crisis remains a “public health issue” in the point of view of the government.
This, however, does not stop the government peacekeepers from acting against people who will instigate trouble.
“Kung may mag-create ng chaos at gulo then that’s when our peacekeepers and our law enforcers have to come in,” Nograles said in a virtual press briefing.
“Alam naman ng mga policemen natin, our AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) kung ano ‘yung protocols pagdating sa peacekeeping and law enforcement,” he added.
In a surprise public address Wednesday night, Duterte warned he would order the police and military to shoot dead anyone “who creates trouble” during the month-long lockdown of Luzon which was enforced to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease.
The President made the appeal after 20 protesters demanding food and other assistance were arrested in Quezon City for staging a rally.
Nograles assured that the government will follow the rule of law during the duration of the quarantine. But he appealed to the public to keep the coronavirus crisis a public health issue by not creating any disorder.
“This is a public health concern. Let’s not complicate things by making it a peace and order problem. It’s already hard and difficult as it is… Let’s focus on one enemy, which is COVID-19. Everything else please stop it… There has to be order. We ask for the cooperation and help of everyone,” he said.
The Palace official likewise gave assurance that imposing martial law is off the table for now.
“Is martial law an option? Hindi natin pinag-uusapan ang martial law,” Nograles said.
Duterte placed the entire Luzon under a month-long “enhanced community quarantine”, effectively a lockdown, on March 16. His directive comes just two days after a botched attempt to restrict the movement of people living and working in Metro Manila to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
To date, the Philippines has recorded a total of 2,311 COVID-19 cases, 96 of whom have died while 50 managed to recover from the disease that originated from Hubei, China.
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