PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday maintained that he has no plan to implement a nationwide martial law amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Duterte gave the reassurance as he stressed that his government is merely fulfilling its mandate to protect the Filipinos against COVID-19 by imposing strict quarantine measures.
“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,” Duterte told the nation in a speech aired late Thursday night on state-run PTV-4.
The country continues to grapple with Covid-19, which has so far infected 15,588 individuals.
Duterte took note of the “fast” progress in the government’s fight against COVID-19 and attributed it to the law enforcers’ strict implementation of quarantine protocols aimed at arresting the further spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Iyan lang ang trabaho nila at makita ho ninyo, we are progressing at a very fast rate because we are able to put in place the rules to be followed when COVID-19 came in like a storm from the outside,” he said.
Duterte also ensured that the state forces’ role is merely limited to helping the government in its relentless efforts in combating COVID-19.
“Huwag kayong matakot (Do not be afraid). There will be no arrest, detention, or anything. It’s purely, if at all if there’s any intervention or interdiction done by the law enforcement agencies pati ho ‘yung military (and the military), the rule is just to implement the law. They are called upon to assist the civil government,” he said.
Control public movement
Duterte, in his speech, announced that beginning June 1, the community quarantine in Metro Manila, Davao City, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, Pangasinan, and Albay would be downgraded to general community quarantine (GCQ) from modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
The rest of the country, he said, would be under modified GCQ.
Duterte reminded the public that the entire country “is still under quarantine.”
Thus, his administration has the right to control the public movement amid the pandemic, Duterte stressed.
“Remember the COVID microbes are still in the air that you breathe, that you pass on to your fellowmen if you are not ready or willing to wear the mask. It is precisely the protection, not for you if you do not want it, but for the protection of the other guy,” Duterte said. “And that is why the state has every right to control your movement if you pass on a contagion to the population.”
Duterte appealed to his fellow Filipinos not to take for granted the relaxation of community quarantine status in the country.
He said the country can survive the COVID-19 crisis if Filipinos “obey the laws.”
“To prevent a mass contagion, gusto namin putulin kung saan namin maputol to stop it. That is the reason of the essence of the police power of the state — to come up with measures to protect public interest, public health, public safety,“ Duterte said.
As of Wednesday, the Philippines has recorded 15,588 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 921 fatalities and 3,598 recoveries.