Updated: Apr 24
MANILA- The Armed Forces of the Philippines is making the necessary preparations after President Rodrigo Duterte warned to impose martial law-like lockdown if Filipino's continue to violate the rules of the enhanced community quarantine.
AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo confirmed that a Philippine Air Force (PAF) internal memo has been issued, which advises troops to “prepare for strict implementation of extensively enhanced community quarantine where the AFP will be the overall in-charge along roads and highways.”
But he clarified Duterte has yet to issue any final deployment order. "Right now, there's no order from the President to deploy. But it is incumbent and customary on the part of the leadership of the Philippine Air Force, and the AFP under General Felimon Santos Jr, for that matter, to exercise its initiative of alerting and preparing our personnel including ROE (rules of engagement),” Arevalo said in a statement.
This was in reaction to Duterte’s televised message Thursday night, April 16, warning that he would order the police and military to enforce physical distancing and a curfew “like martial law” if people persisted in stepping out of their homes and going around despite the lockdown meant to quell the coronavirus pandemic.
Arevalo also warned the public over continuous violation of the enhanced community quarantine rules, saying that health protocols must be strictly enforced to prevent the spread of the disease.
He added “We have to stop them. Failing to do so will have serious repercussions in the spread of the virus and afflictions more than our health workers and facilities can handle". He noted, “documented blatant infractions” and “utter disregard” for community quarantine protocols. "If the disobedience will be unabated, the gains we had in the past days that slowed down the increase in infections over time will be put to waste".
However, he said that it is only “natural” for the military to prepare for such circumstances to be able to anticipate any scenarios following the warning.
Authorities have given warnings to some 96,000 out of 130,000 apprehended quarantine violators. They earlier deferred making arrests and have fined violators instead to not congest detainment facilities.
The picture above shows members of the Manila Police District and Armed Forces of the Philippines join barangay officials as they enforce a strict 24-hour lockdown of Barangay 20 at the Parola Compound in Tondo, Manila on April 14, 2020
Arevalo said, “What we should all be alarmed about instead is the fact that a lot of people are blatantly violating the law and disobeying the rules and health protocols which must be strictly enforced – otherwise people die". Rappler quoted Arevalo as saying.
He added that the military is currently assisting local government during quarantine through helping the police guard checkpoints and several major national quarantine facilities, as well as deploying its trucks, planes, and vessels to transport medical equipment and relief goods.
The enhanced community quarantine in Luzon is set to end on April 30.
On 1 April 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte took to the airwaves with a chilling warning for his citizens. He said in a mix of Filipino and English in the televised address.
"I will not hesitate. My orders are to the police and military, as well as village officials if there are any trouble, or occasions where there's violence and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead. Do not intimidate the government. Do not challenge the government. You will lose."
As of today, the Philippines have 6,459 confirmed case and 428 deaths. The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday explained the protocols on treating COVID-19 patients, including off-label medicines allowed to be administered to them, and how healthcare workers monitor their situation while admitted in a COVID-19 health facility.
The DOH reminded the public to seek urgent medical attention if their symptoms become severe, and they start experiencing difficulty in breathing, confusion, sleepiness, and blueing of lips or face. They could call the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team for immediate referral to the nearest health facility in their area or the Department’s 24/7 telemedicine hotlines: 02-8424-1724 or 02-7798-8000 for NCR, and 1555 and 894-COVID for those outsides.
We can all help slow the spread of COVID-19. You can protect yourself and help prevent spreading the virus to others if you:
Practice good hygiene
Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
Practice Social distancing.
Follow the limits for public gatherings.
Finally, please continue to keep our Principles of Community in mind. Don’t forget to practice grace, empathy, and compassion towards yourself and others. We will get through this moment in time together.