MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday ordered the military and police to be prepared in taking over enforcement of lockdown measures following rampant violations of the enhanced community quarantine imposed in Luzon to curtail the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
"I’m just asking for your disiplina konti. Kasi 'pag ayaw ninyo, ayaw ninyong maniwala mag-take over ang military, pati police. I am ordering them now to be ready," he said in a late night virtual press briefing.
"Ang police pati military ang mag-enforce sa distance… social distance at ‘yong curfew, sila na. Parang martial law na rin. Mamilli kayo. Ayaw ko pero 'pagka naipit na ‘yong bayan at walang disiplina kayo, hindi na bale sana kung hindi kayo maniwala sa akin wala naman akong paki," he added.
"Hindi naman tayo kaibigan, hindi naman tayo kapartido, ayaw ninyo sa akin eh di okay lang. Pero ngayon anumang partido mo o anumang kulay mo sumunod ka. Kasi ‘pag hindi, ang kaharap mo sunod ang militar na pati pulis," Duterte further added.
As of Thursday, the Philippines has 5,660 COVID-19 cases, with 362 deaths and 435 recoveries.
In his speech, the President told local government units to follow the national government's guidelines against COVID-19.
"Hindi nga naman ako namimilit. Hindi nga ito martial law eh. And even 'yong martial law, you don't put people in prison. Walang rason ang martial law kasi wala namang virus diyan, wala namang bacteria, whatsoever," he said.
The President added, "Hindi nga naman ito martial law pero parang martial law na rin, in the sense I have to impose something on you for your own good and for the good of the country and people."
The Philippine National Police Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield reported earlier this week that some 108,088 quarantine violators were accosted from March 17, the start of the Luzon lockdown, until April 12.
Of this number, 76,989 were given warnings while 4,969 were fined. A total of 5,539, meanwhile, were charged while 20,591 are facing complaints.
The President placed Luzon's population of over 50 million under lockdown - barring public gatherings, suspending school, work and public transport - in a bid to prevent further spread of the contagious COVID-19.
The lockdown was supposed to end on April 12, but the President extended it to April 30 to effectively contain the crisis.