Duterte warns of stricter measures vs COVID-19 if people keep disregarding rules
MANILA, Philippines — The government may implement stricter measures if people continue to disregard health protocols and quarantine restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, President Rodrigo Duterte warned on Monday in his pre-recorded briefing.
He did not specify what those stricter measures might be. He did point out seeing that people not following the rules set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, particularly in Bacolod in the Visayas and Cagayan de Oro Mindanao.
Some people in those places, he said, act as though there was no pandemic, even just roaming around.
“We might calibrate our response to the intransigence that you will show. It’s up to you. Then we can go into… there are many things. I could — I just don’t want to say it, but we have the power to control it actually if we want to make it hard for people,” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino.
Usually, a blatant disregard for the rules is treated as a criminal violation that would merit a ticket and detention, while both the national government and local government units impose strict lockdowns in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases.
From March up to mid-May, Metro Manila and its four neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal were placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ due to a surge that peaked to over 200,000 active COVID-19 cases at one point.
It was only downgraded to a general community quarantine (GCQ) after Metro Manila recorded a gradual decrease in cases.
However, even with that decrease, the country’s new infections remained at the 6,000 to 7,000 mark, with Health Secretary Francisco Duque attributing the spike to the higher cases recorded in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Some administration officials even floated the possibility of declaring martial law as a response against COVID-19. In May 2020, chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said that the pandemic might be considered an “invasion,” which is a ground for placing the country under military rule.
Duterte himself explored the same possibility, but he was reacting to allegations that communist New People’s Army had been ambushing government workers to steal aid for people affected by the pandemic.
However, the administration has repeatedly insisted that the pandemic is not enough reason to declare martial law, with Duterte saying during the onset of the health crisis that lockdowns are different from military rule.
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