MANILA – Having the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel man the checkpoints to enforce the month-long community quarantine of Metro Manila is part of the “whole-of-government approach” to prevent the spread of the coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.
AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo made this clarification after some sectors criticized the deployment of security troops to address a health problem.
“The AFP (along with the PNP) is part of the whole-of-government approach in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. Hence, all agencies of government—national and local— take part in this endeavor,” he said in a statement to reporters Sunday.
Arevalo said the measures outlined by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases have to be enforced diligently, otherwise they will become a law and order problem, not just a health issue.
Measures include community quarantine, curfew, and the so-called social distancing.
“That notwithstanding, soldiers are there to assist line departments of government. Their arms are primarily not rifles and pistols; they are not boarded in tanks or armored personnel carriers,” he added.
Arevalo said deployment of troops with the Department of Health, includes military doctors, nurses, and aid men armed with health and diagnostic equipment aboard ambulances.
“The AFP is manned and ready not only to address attacks by terrorists and other enemies of the state hiding under the cloak of legality or anonymity,” he added.
As institution tasked by the Constitution to protect the people and state, Arevalo said the AFP is prepared to respond to pandemics like Covid-19. (PNA)