By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles explained that President Duterte’s threat of a martial law-like enhanced community quarantine was just a warning as the 1987 Constitution was clear that a pandemic cannot trigger martial law.
Nograles made the statement after Duterte warned of a takeover by the military and the police to strictly enforce quarantine measures should the public continue to violate the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine that was imposed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Warning lang sa violators at pasaway na umayos kayo (It was just a warning to violators to not be stubborn). Let’s keep order,” he said in his Friday virtual presser.
“Parang sinasabi lang niya, kung talagang magmamatigas ang mga pasaway (He’s only saying that if people will continue to be stubborn), then we will really employ and ask the help of the military and the police,” he added.
Nograles said the Constitution was very clear that martial law can only be declared if there is rebellion or invasion.
“‘Pag wala yun, hindi naman ano yung martial law (If those conditions are not present, then there cannot be a martial law),” he said.
“The President was only trying to emphasize that he also has the ability to ask the AFP and PNP (Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police) to impose order if need be,” he added.
In an address to the public Thursday evening, President Duterte asked the public to behave as he revealed that he already put the military and the police on standby.
“I am just asking for your disiplina, konti. Kasi pag ayaw ninyo, ayaw ninyong maniwala, mag take over ang military pati ang pulis (I am just asking you to be more disciplined because if not, believe me, the police and the military will take over),” he said.
“I am ordering them now to be ready. Ang pulis pati ang military ang mag enforce sa social distance at ‘yang curfew. Sila na (The police and the military will be enforcing social distancing and the curfew. They would take charge),” he added.
What happens next?
Nograles said the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will talk about what will happen after April 30, the last day of the extended enhanced community quarantine.
“We will discuss what possible scenario will be, what will be new do’s and don’ts, and what to allow after April 30,” he said.
“Whatever we discuss [in the] IATF, we will recommend that to the President, ultimately [he will decide],” he added.
The Palace official, however, stressed that the decision will depend on the situation on the ground.
“Kung nagko-cooperate naman ang mga tao (If everyone is cooperating), then it makes it easier for us to make the decision because everybody is cooperating,” Nograles said.
“Pero kung mas marami ang hindi nagko-cooperate (But if a lot will refuse to cooperate), then who knows what the decision will be? It will be more difficult for us to come up with the decision,” he added.