Duterte assures Filipinos: We’re far from martial law despite health crisis
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has assured Filipinos that the government is not thinking of placing the entire country under military rule just to implement measures to avoid more coronavirus transmissions.
However, Duterte asked the public for understanding if law enforcement agencies are becoming strict, as enforcing laws to prevent more COVID-19 cases are necessary and urgent.
“I repeat there is no martial law in the Philippines, far from it. We are exercising the power of the state to protect public health, that is all there is to it,” the President said in his briefing on Monday night.
“Now because sometimes enforcement can be a very tedious process, and explaining to the ordinary citizen, please understand that these are things which we have to do because it is needed to be implemented. ‘Yon lang po, ‘wag kayong matakot, [That’s it, don’t be afraid] there will be no arrests, detention or anything,” he added.
Duterte’s clarifications came a month after he threatened martial law several times, if quarantine violations continue and if the communist rebels keep on attacking government agencies delivering social aid to families affected by the COVID-19 lockdowns.
According to him, he would be forced to declare martial law to curb insurgency amid a health crisis — something that lawmakers from both the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed to.
Despite these pronouncements, some groups within opposition circles believe that the country is already in a de facto martial law state, as several quarantine violators are subjected to harsh and inhumane treatment, while Duterte’s detractors are either ordered deported or arrested.
Last April, a Filipina worker from Taiwan was ordered deported — although the Taiwanese government did not allow it — for criticizing Duterte and the government’s response to the pandemic. And then in Agusan del Norte, a salesman was arrested for calling Duterte “buang” (crazy) and his long-time aide Senator Bong Go “playing hero.”
But Duterte insists that law enforcement agencies are just implementing the law.
“It’s purely, if at all, if there’s any intervention or interdiction done by the law enforcement agencies, pati ho ‘yong (even the) military, the role is just to implement the law, they are called upon to assist the government,” he noted.
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