By Genalyn Kabiling
The presence of the military in Cebu City will help deter stubborn or “pasaway” people from breaking the quarantine protocols imposed to stem the spread of the new coronavirus disease, according to Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.
Panelo has defended the troop deployment in the virus-hit city following concerns raised by Vice President Leni Robredo, saying soldiers can aid the policemen in implementing the strict quarantine measures and keep the people safe and protected.
“Alam mo yung tangke, inilagay ‘yun para sa security ng mga kababayan natin hindi para laban sa kanila. Kaya nga sila Army yun ang trabaho nila, to protect the Filipino people (You know, the tanks were placed there for the security of the people and not against them. The job of the army is to protect the Filipino people),” he said during his “Counterpoint” program last Friday.
“Kaya lang naman hinihingi ang tulong ng military para pairalin ‘yung mga protocols, para yung mga pasaway ay medyo magkaroon naman ng konting takot na huwag na suwayin ang batas kasi para sa kaligtasan din naman nila yun (We only asked the help of the military so the protocols can be enforced, so the stubborn will have some fear not to disobey the law because it is for their own safety),” he added.
Robredo earlier questioned the presence of military tanks and personnel in Cebu City, saying the government ought to adopt a public health approach to address the pandemic instead. She said the health emergency cannot be solved by sowing fear among the people.
Panelo explained that the military and police have been deployed to Cebu City not to make life difficult for the residents.
He echoed President Duterte’s remarks that cases of infections in Cebu City surged due to the complacency of some residents. After 250,000 quarantine passes were cancelled, he noted that the distribution of new passes to households will be reduced to curb the outbreak.
“Hindi dinadala ang mga military at police para pahirapan tayo sa ating paglabas o paglalakabay kung hindi para bigyan tayo ng kaligtasan sa pamamagitan ng pagpapairal ng safety protocols (The military and the police are not deployed to make it difficult for us to travel outside but to give us protection by enforcing the safety protocols),” he said.
President Duterte recently sent Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to Cebu City to oversee the government’s coronavirus response. He also disclosed plans to visit Cebu City just to remind its residents to follow the health protocols, after lamenting they became “too confident and too complacent.”
Cebu City has been put back under strict enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from June 16 to June 30 due to the sharp rise in coronavirus cases and high critical care utilization rate. The strict lockdown includes home quarantine for all households except for essential activities, suspension of public transportation, ban on mass gatherings except for those related to government services or humanitarian activities, and limited operations of certain industries.