Palace: Duterte ‘shoot to kill’ order not a crime, allowed for ‘self-preservation’
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to the police and military to shoot dead members of leftist groups and unruly Luzon lockdown violators is “not a crime” and is anchored in the principle of “self-preservation,” his spokesman said Friday.
In a surprise public address Wednesday night, Duterte warned he would order state forces to shoot dead anyone “who creates trouble” during the month-long quarantine of Luzon which was enforced to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
“My orders are sa pulis pati military, pati mga barangay na pagka ginulo at nagkaroon ng okasyon na lumaban at ang buhay ninyo ay nalagay sa alanganin, shoot them dead,” Duterte said.
(My order to the police and military, and for the village officials as well, that if there are trouble and your life was put to danger, shoot them dead.)
“Eh kaysa mag-gulo kayo diyan, eh ‘di ilibing ko na kayo…Huwag ninyo subukan ang gobyerno kasi itong gobyerno na ito hindi inutil,” he added.
(Rather than deal with the trouble, I’ll just have you buried…Don’t try this government because this government is not inutile.)
Duterte’s remark, however, did not sit well with some lawmakers, groups and human rights advocates.
But Duterte’s spokesman and legal counsel Salvador Panelo argued that the President’s threat against violators of quarantine rules and enemies of the state is “not a crime.”
“The law allows the use of lethal violence when the person’s life using it hangs on the balance. That is a universal law anchored on the principle of self-preservation,” Panelo said in a statement.
As President, Panelo said Duterte is tasked by the Constitution to enforce it and the laws of the land.
“Transgressors will suffer the consequences of their violations as imposed by law,” he said.
Citing Article 7, Section 18 of the Constitution, the Palace official said Duterte is “mandated to call the armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence.
“In issuing the warning to the Left as well as to those who instigate riots and violence, he is merely reminding them that the government is ready to forcibly quell any unrest and disturbance that threaten public safety especially at this time of national emergency,” Panelo said.
“The President by exercising what the Constitution requires him to do is precisely putting an end to a contemplated and threatened violence by those who disturb the status quo that will certainly result to destruction of lives and properties,” he added. “By so doing, the President is protecting the lives and human rights of those people placed in imminent danger thereof.”
Duterte issued the warning after 20 protesters demanding food and other assistance were arrested in Quezon City for staging a rally with a permit.
Panelo then warned “enemies of the state” that “any attempt at destabilizing the government and any and all acts calculated to impede the swift and smooth implementation of the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act to stop the spread of COVID-19 to the detriment of the general welfare will be crushed.”
The entire island of Luzon, home to about half of the country’s people, has been placed under a month-long lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 which has infected 2,633 people in the country and killed 107 as of Thursday afternoon.
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