Palace: Gov’t may tap AFP vs hardheaded ECQ violators

By: Julie M. Aurelio - @inquirerdotnet - | April 18,2020 - 12:45 PM

The possibility of a martial law-like takeover of the Luzon lockdown should remind the public that President Rodrigo Duterte can compel security forces to impose order if people continue to flaunt quarantine rules, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) said on Friday.

“What the President said [on Thursday] night is very clear,” IATF-EID spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said. “If violators will continue to be hardheaded, we will really employ and ask the military to come in and help the police,” he added.

Nograles admitted that while the crisis does not meet the constitutional requirements for the declaration of martial law, the President wanted to emphasize the need for people to comply with the quarantine to end the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contagion.

“[Our] decisions are based on the assumptions of how the Filipino people will behave and cooperate … That’s based on the assumption that people will follow the rules. If they don’t follow the rules … the assumptions and the model are destroyed,” he said.

‘I will impose order’

“That’s why the President said … ‘I will impose order.’ Because [people] are ruining our assumptions and projections. How many will get sick, hospitalized? How many will recover? That will be ruined because of violators,” Nograles added.

Mr. Duterte warned on Thursday that he would order security forces to enforce the lockdown amid increased violations of quarantine restrictions.

Local officials in Caloocan City were even caught in an illegal cockfight with participants admitting they used as bet the money they received from the government.

Duterte said he would withhold aid to violators of quarantine restrictions and those joining cockfights and drinking spree on the streets.

“You who are engaged in cockfights and drinking on the streets, it only means that you have money … Do not expect any help from me,” the President said. “I will just give to the truly needy and who have nowhere to go,” he added.

Mr. Duterte estimated that 80 percent of Filipinos follow quarantine rules but there remains 20 percent who are “jerks” and keep on disobeying government directives.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque later said that speculations that the government would totally lock down Metro Manila were unfounded and rumors that the enhanced community quarantine would be extended were false.

Nograles affirmed that “we are not talking about that” and the IATF-EID is, in fact, set to meet on Monday to discuss plans to be implemented after the lockdown ends on April 30.

For Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the President should also tap security forces against local officials who repeatedly defy the lockdown guidelines.

“If there are local officials who are themselves part of the problem, I think [the President] is correct to call on the police to more effectively enforce the enhanced community quarantine, with the military assisting,” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM MARLON RAMOS

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TAGS: AFP, Armed Forces of the Philippines, COVID-19, ECQ violators

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