The resolution of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) “strongly recommending” a curfew on the entire Metro Manila on top of the community quarantine is unwarranted and without any legal and medical basis as far as responding to a national public health emergency is concerned, women’s group Gabriela said on Sunday.
By flexing a power which is never vested on it in the first place, the MMC and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) further infected the public with confusion and anxiety in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, Gabriela said.
The latest clarification made by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) does not fully put to rest the people’s fear of a martial rule response to the crisis, as it was stated that LGUs will allegedly issue the curfew ordinances on March 16, they said.
“We strongly urge the Metro Manila LGUs to step back from the recommended imposition of a curfew, as it is not stated in President Duterte’s Proclamation No. 922 nor in the resolution signed by the Inter-Agency Task Force. Did the DOH recommend the curfew? If yes, what are the bases? Does this mean COVID-19 is more active at night? What remedy can a curfew do to communities in search of health solutions to the current health crisis? We hope the LGUs will carefully consider these questions,” Gabriela asked.
Implementing a curfew on top of a Metro Manila lockdown will further inconvenience workers and ordinary citizens, and will open a new vista for abuse of authority by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“We remind our police and the military that the COVID-19 outbreak is a public health crisis and not a peace and order problem. And even with a public health emergency, police and military powers cannot be exercised without limit. We particularly condemn NCRPO chief Debold Sinas for boldly issuing threats regarding mass arrests based merely on the community quarantine resolution and for further inducing the fears of the public that has witnessed the PNP’s gross disregard for human rights under the Duterte regime,” the group said.
“All these shock theatrics should not make us forget that urgent medical solutions should be provided by the Duterte regime. We need free and massive COVID-19 testing and screening. We need assurances that hospitalization and quarantine costs will be fully shouldered by the government,” Gabriela said.
Gabriela also said they need assurances that the economic fallout will be offset by adequate social benefits and economic relief programs.
Exercise of raw police powers can never solve the current health crisis, Gabriela said./Stacy Ang