A policeman wearing a face mask stands guard at a checkpoint to enforce enhanced quarantine rules in Manila. (Photo: AFP)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered police and the military to shoot community quarantine violators if they pose a risk to their lives and the lives of others.
“I would not hesitate. My order to the police and the military is, when the occasion arises that the public puts your life at risk … shoot them dead,” Duterte said on live television on April 1.
The president gave the order in response to scuffles during a protest in the nation’s capital Manila on April 1. Police clashed with protesters who were demanding government aid. They claimed they have not been receiving any support despite Duterte’s fat budget to fight the pandemic.
Authorities moved in to disperse the protesters for being in violation of social distancing rules, arresting 16 people.
Duterte accused left-wing groups of being behind the protest.
“You wait. Do not use force. I am addressing the left [anti-government groups] about your criticisms about the distribution of goods. Remember, you, leftist groups: you are not the government. So, do not do anything stupid like starting a riot because I will order you detained and I will have you in jail until this pandemic is over,” Duterte said.
The president also threatened to send quarantine violators “to their grave” if they continue to cause trouble.
He then went on to address allegations of corruption in the distribution of government aid. Several people posted online reports saying repacked groceries and medical supply boxes had politicians’ names on them.
“Do not entertain doubts about dishonesty and corruption. This is not the time for them. Not this time. I am the one telling you,” Duterte said.
But the public are not convinced about there being no corruption in the distribution of government aid.
“This is clearly not the cost of the billions of pesos that was released as aid to the needy,” said a Manila resident who wished to remain anonymous.
“This is not the time for politicking. The virus is our enemy. I hope our politicians will set aside their political agenda first and focus on the real problem,” said Marco Lansadas, a taxi driver.
Meanwhile, Bishop Jose Alan Dialogo and his priests have baked bread to be distributed to the poor in Sorsogon Diocese.
The diocese is also distributing fish to poor communities who cannot afford to buy food during the enhanced community quarantine.
There are 30 parishes in the diocese and each one will receive fish and bread baked by their own diocesan bishop.
As of April 1, the Philippines had recorded 2,311 Covid-19 cases with 96 deaths, according to government figures.