MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he may be forced to use the military in enforcing quarantine protocols if people continue to disobey rules amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to Duterte, the government may deploy soldiers if the number of coronavirus infections continues to rise.
"Sabi ko sa inyo, hindi ko kayo lahat mapigilan. The police cannot be everywhere and anywhere all the time. The military is not part of the governance yet in the matter of using force, or at least intimidating you with soldiers. Far from it, we do not have that plan," he said in a late-night public address.
"But, 'pag hindi talaga madala, and it's a runaway contagion, mapipilitan akong magamit ang military kasi talagang kulang ang pulis. Ngayon kung nandiyan ang military to enforce you to obey itong community lockdown," Duterte added.
He also appealed to the public to follow quarantine protocols to prevent the further spread of the disease.
"Sumunod kayo dahil para sa inyo 'yan. Tingnan ninyo 'yan, sige kayo labas. Dumami 'yung contamination, 'yung pasa," Duterte added.
Duterte on Aug. 4 ordered the return of the Modified Enhanced Community in five areasin the country following the appeal of health workers for a "time out" as COVID-19 cases in the country continued to surge.
The extension of the strict restrictions in the country's urban hubs is expected to further hit the economy which shrunk by 16.5 percent in the second quarter, plunging into recession.
The 16.5 percent contraction--which wiped out the gains from the administration of late President Cory Aquino up to her son, former President Noynoy Aquino--was "much worse" than government economists expected, bringing the country into recession again in nearly 30 years.
Major parts of the Philippines were placed on quarantine since mid-March to curb the spread of COVID-19, which was first recorded in the country on Jan. 30 in a Chinese woman who arrived from the Chinese city of Wuhan where the disease is believed to have first emerged.
As of Monday, the Philippines has logged a total of 136,638 total confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Of this number, 66,186 are considered active cases, while 68,159 have recovered. There are also 2,293 fatalities.
The Philippines has been logging a minimum of 3,000 additional COVID-19 cases per day since July 30, following the easing of quarantine measures and the gradual opening up of the economy.
Because of this and the “flooding” of patients in hospitals, doctors called for stricter quarantine measures, which the government partially granted.