AFP vows to uphold human rights in case of martial law-like lockdown

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 21 2020 09:18 PM | Updated as of Apr 21 2020 09:37 PM

Passengers on board a military truck offering free rides to the border of Cainta and Pasig on Ortigas Avenue on March 20, 2020 have their temperatures checked by a soldier. Commuters, mostly workers getting to and from their jobs, are most affected by the ban on public transportation in the lockdown being implemented all over Metro Manila and the whole island of Luzon. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday assured the public there is nothing to worry should the government implement a martial law-like lockdown amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"First thing first, we have already experienced the enforcing of martial law in Mindanao. During the period, there has been so far no substantiated complaint or claims of violation of human rights against us," AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo told ANC.

"Second, we're saying your armed forces of today are very much well-versed on international humanitarian law. We are also abiding with the provision of constitution, " he added.

"So our people should not worry about it because your armed forces are professional."

Last week, a Philippine Air Force (PAF) document leaked online advising its personnel to prepare following President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncement of the police and military's "martial law-type" role in the strict implementation of quarantine measures.

"In essence, this should send a signal to our people that your armed forces is serious in implementing its would-be mandate, just in case if and when they're going to be deployed, and we are mindful of the rights of the civilians," Arevalo said.

To date, some 1,600 soldiers have been deployed across Metro Manila to help implement strict quarantine measures.

Meanwhile, Arevalo said the military has raised P16.95 million after soldiers cut a portion of their salaries to donate in the country's battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also set up 2 mobile kitchens in Quezon City to provide food for stranded workers.

"This is not being asked of the armed forces. We voluntarily did this, out of our genuine concern and love for our fellow Filipinos," Arevalo said.

As of Tuesday, there were 33 armed personnel who have contracted COVID-19, of whom, 29 have been given a clean bill of health and are back to work, he said.

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