MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday assured Filipinos that there is no martial law in the Philippines despite the increased presence of police and soldiers as the country fights the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
"I repeat, there is no martial law in the Philippines. Far from it. We are exercising the power of the state to protect public health. That is all there is to it," Duterte said in a briefing streamed online.
According to Duterte, the police and military are merely helping the civilian government in implementing the rules during the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the disease.
"Now, because sometimes enforcement can be a very tedious process, in explaining to the ordinary citizen, please understand that these are things which we have to do because it is needed to be implemented," he explained.
He also said people have nothing to be scared of because there will be no arrest as long as they follow quarantine policies.
"'Wag kayong matakot. (Don't be afraid.) There will be no arrest, detention or anything. It's purely, if at all, if there's any intervention, or interdiction, done by the law enforcement agencies. Pati ho 'yung military (even the military), the role is just to implement the law. They are called upon to assist the civil government," Duterte said.
"'Yan lang ang trabaho, at makikita ninyo, (That's their only job, and you will see) we are progressing at a very fast rate because we were able to put in place the rules to be followed when COVID came in like a storm from the outside," he added.
The military, along with the country's police force, are at the forefront of law enforcement while several areas in the country are on lockdown.
Duterte has also tapped the military to help the Department of Social Welfare and Development in distributing cash aid to poor families during the crisis.