The use of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the stricter implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) does not amount to Martial Law, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Sunday.
“It does not necessarily mean there is Martial Law unless it is declared,” said Sotto.
“If the use of the AFP is necessary to keep people off the streets then so be it,” he added.
The Senate leader noted that keeping the people safe is primordial when sought for his reaction on the President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement of calling the police and military to enforce a lockdown similar to Martial Law.
The President had expressed his frustrations over the quarantine violators’ defiance in heeding the government’s order to stay at home to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Senator Panfilo Lacson said the President was just emphasizing discipline during the ECQ when he issued that warning.
“No military takeover. PRRD made the remark to emphasize discipline. He did not say we are under Martial Law,” said Lacson.
Lacson said he shared this stand of the President for the Martial Law-style lockdown due to the increasing number of confirmed COViD-19 cases and deaths from the highly-infectious virus.
“We still can’t imagine that the curve will flatten. We’re far off from it because first of all, we still do not have massive testing,” said Lacson.
In his public address Thursday, Duterte said he will order the police and military to implement a Martial Law-like lockdown measures following reports that many people violate the ECQ across Luzon.
“The police and military will enforce social distancing and curfews. They will. It’s like martial law. You choose. I don’t like it,” Duterte said in a late-night speech Thursday.
Duterte, who took office in mid-2016, has already drawn concern about potential human rights violations for his anti-drug crackdown in which thousands of mostly poor drug suspects have been killed.
Some local officials have enforced the COVID-19 lockdown to extremes, including a village guard who locked five drunken curfew violators in a dog cage and others who paraded violators to shame them in public./Stacy Ang