President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday warned of a martial law-like lockdown if Filipinos will continue to disregard the protocols imposed by the government to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In a televised public address, Duterte said he can order the police and the military to take over anytime soon in enforcing the enhanced community quarantine or lockdown in Luzon.
“I’m just asking for your disiplina kaunti. Kasi ‘pag ayaw ninyo, ayaw ninyong maniwala, mag-take over ang military pati pulis. I am ordering them now to be ready,” the President said.
“Ang pulis pati military ang mag-enforce sa social distancing at ‘yang curfew. Sila na. Parang martial law na rin. Mamili kayo. Ayaw ko pero kapag naipit na ‘yung bayan at walang disiplina kayo (gagawin ko),” he added.
Duterte issued the statement as he expressed frustrations over the reported quarantine violations despite his repeated calls on the public to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Kaunting tiis lang… Kung ayaw ninyo sa akin, okay lang. Pero ngayon, anumang partido mo o anumang kulay mo, sumunod ka kasi ‘pag hindi, ang kaharap mo sunod ang militar na pati pulis. Iyan ang ano ko,” Duterte said.
“Ngayon, kailan? Kailan talaga? Estimate mo, bigyan mo kami. Baka next week. Every day they are at it ika nga. Nandiyan sila nakatutok,” he added.
As of April 15, records showed that the police have already caught around 119,000 alleged violators of lockdown and curfew rules nationwide.
Of this number, some 28,000 were arrested, while other suspects were warned or fined.
The government has placed Luzon under enhanced community quarantine or lockdown until April 30, restricting people’s movement to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
Other areas outside Luzon have imposed their own lockdown policies.
Despite his warning, Duterte admitted that it pains him to impose the lockdown.
“I have to admit it. This thing about sequestration or quarantine is a cruel action by the government. Hindi madali ito. Pati ako nasasaktan,” he noted.
“Problem is kung magdikit-dikit tayo ulit, palabasin ko kayo lahat, magsakay na naman kayo ng train, lalo na ngayon marami ng puntahan kasi ilang araw na (hindi nakalabas). Eh magdikit-dikit na naman tayo, isang ubo lang, haros (ubos) ‘yung (mga tao),” he added.
Duterte then assured the public that he would order the immediate lifting of the lockdown in Luzon without even a “single moment of delay.”
“Mga kababayan ko, kaunting panahon na lang… Ang medisina lang kailangan,” he said.
“Kaunting tiis na lang talaga. Nakikiusap ako… In the fullness of God’s time, the antibodies and the vaccines will come,” he added.