MANILA – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano defended on Friday President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to shoot people who will disrupt the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In a virtual press briefing, Cayetano said the President’s threat should be considered in context and should not be taken literally.
“I always look at the intent… I always take the President seriously, but not always literally. Ano ba yung konteksto nang sinabi niya yun? (What is the context of what he said?,” Cayetano said.
He noted that Duterte’s warning against quarantine violators came after reports that around 20 members of an urban poor group were arrested for being part of a mass protest in Quezon City.
In a televised interview, Quezon City Task Force Action Officer Rannie Ludovica alleged that the Leftist group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) instigated the protesters to stage the rally.
“It could really spark civil disobedience and riots in other places kasi gutom ang tao (because the people are hungry). So yung context ng pagkakasabi ng Pangulo (So, the context of what the President said) is that: ‘sumunod kayo sa quarantine (follow the quarantine guidelines); I will not tolerate violence’,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano said the public has to “get used to how the President expresses himself”.
“I don’t think na literal ang order ng Pangulo na pagka-violate eh barilin mo (that the President’s order should be taken literally that once you violate quarantine rules, you will get shot),” he said.
He said the month-long quarantine of Luzon was meant to protect the people to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
On Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said: “threatening violators and enemies of the state with deathly violence is not a crime.”
Panelo issued the statement, a day after non-governmental organization Amnesty International (AI) expressed alarm over Duterte’s stern warning against troublemakers who are hampering government’s efforts to fight coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Duterte, in a televised address on April 1, warned that he would order the arrest of persons who are sowing chaos during the imposition of month-long enhanced community quarantine.
Panelo cited that Section 18, Article 12 of the 1987 Constitution mandates Duterte to call the armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence.
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte minced no words in warning the troublemakers and the seditious inciters of mortal consequences if they continue to create unrest, panic, confusion, fear and foment hate against the government, while the nation struggles to rid itself of the deadly coronavirus,” he said.
“The law allows the use of lethal violence when the person’s life using it hangs on the balance. That is a universal law anchored on the principle of self-preservation,” Panelo added.
Panelo said Duterte is merely warning those who are instigating riots and violence that the government is ready to “forcibly quell any unrest and disturbance that threaten public safety, especially at this time of national emergency.”
He said any attempt by enemies of the state to destabilize the government and impede the swift and smooth Covid-19 response “will be crushed.” (PNA)