Gatchalian favors military presence during lockdown

Published August 12, 2020, 10:58 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Mobilizing the military to strictly enforce quarantine protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19 is practical, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said.

Police stop a delivery worker at a checkpoint as they conduct identity checks during a new round of lockdown measures for the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, along a road in Manila on August 4, 2020. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Gatchalian said he agrees with President Duterte’s plan on the need to deploy more military personnel on the ground to support local government units (LGUs) in enforcing protocols against COVID.

“I agree that we need to mobilize the military in so far as putting more boots on the ground in enforcing the MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) because if we don’t enforce the MECQ to the letter then it is useless closing the economy and not enforcing it well,” Gatchalian said in an interview.

“For practical purposes, you really need to have more enforcers on the ground and this is where the military plays a very big role,” he added.

Duterte had earlier disclosed his plans to deploy the military to augment the police force in implementing the quarantine protocols.

Critics, however, criticized the plan saying it is tantamount to militarizing the government’s response to the pandemic.

But Gatchalian said he doesn’t see the strategy in the same light, as those who are in the frontlines of the government’s COVID strategy are not the military.

“The military support on the ground is purely support. Wala silang sariling operations dito (they do not have a separate operations here),” he said.

“Ang may police power lang si mayor at si police chief PNP (only the mayor and the PNP chief has the police power) so they have to be deputized by these two,” Gatchalian said, referring to the Philippine National Police.

“They (military) cannot move without the order of the chief of police and the mayor,” he stressed.

Gatchalian said the presence of law enforcement officers on the ground provides a psychological impact to the people that push them to follow.

“Kung mas maraming naka-fatigue on the ground, mas susunod ang tao …(When people see officials wearing fatigue, these people will follow and obey regulations),” he stressed.