The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) may be deployed to enforce quarantine measures in the event of a “runaway contagion” in the country, President Duterte said Monday night.
As the cases of coronavirus continued to rise, the President said the military could augment the police force which he claimed “cannot be everywhere and anywhere all the time.”
“The military is not part of the governance yet in the matter of using force or at least intimidating you with soldiers. Far from it. We do not have that plan,” Duterte said in his televised address Monday night.
“Kapag hindi talaga madala and it’s a runaway contagion, mapipilitan ako maggamit ng military kasi talagang kulang ang pulis (If it cannot be addressed and it’s a runaway contagion, I will be forced to use the military because the police won’t be enough),” he said.
The President also appealed anew to the public to follow the health protocols enforced to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease.
“Ngayon, kung nandyan ang military to enforce you to obey itong community lockdown, sumunod kayo dahil para sa inyo ‘yan (Now if the military is deployed to enforce the community lockdown, please follow because it’s for your own good),” he said.
On Monday, the Philippines recorded its single biggest surge in coronavirus cases with 6,958 new infections that pushed the total to 136,638. The country’s death toll has reached 2,293.
The country is largely under the relaxed community quarantine level to allow the gradual reopening of the economy.
Metro Manila and four nearby provinces reverted to the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from August 4 to 18 following an appeal from the medical community for a timeout. The health frontliners have called for tougher measures to stem the spike in COVID cases and prevent the collapse of the health care system.
Some groups have called for an extension of the MECQ to effectively contain the outbreak. The Palace, however, said it is up to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to decide on the matter.
In his remarks Monday, the President recognized that the country has seen both “positive and saddening developments” in the battle against the coronavirus.
“Although we are consistently adding to and improving on testing capability as well as enhancing our capacity for contact tracing, we have also seen a continuous rise in COVID cases especially in the NCR (National Capital Region),” he said.
Duterte said as much as he would want to give in to the demand of the medical community to continue the lockdown, the government no longer has enough funds to sustain the subsidy for affected families. He said people should be allowed to resume their livelihood.