MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte merely wants a “stricter” implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon when he threatened to impose a martial law-like lockdown, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Friday.

Nograles’ clarification came a day after Duterte announced the possible military and police‘s takeover of the enforcement of the ECQ due to the supposed surge in the number of quarantine violators.

“Ang sinabi ni Pangulo naman kagabi, very clear. Martial law-type. Parang ang sinasabi lang ni Pangulo, kung talagang magmamatigas ang mga pasaway (The President’s statement last night is very clear — martial law-type. He was only saying that if some people insist on being stubborn), then we will really employ and ask the military to come in and help, with the police,” he said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.

In a televised national address, Duterte told the police and the military to get ready to take the lead in the implementation of the ECQ in Luzon, in case the number of quarantine violators continues to rise.

Frustrated by the reported quarantine violations during the ECQ period, the President said his order would be similar to the declaration of “martial law.”

Article 7, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution provides that the President can declare martial law, “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”

Mere warning

Nograles said Duterte’s pronouncement was a “mere warning” to those who would continue to defy the quarantine protocols imposed by the national government to stop the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.

“The President is only trying to emphasize to the people that he also has the ability to ask the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the (Philippine National Police) to help impose orders, if need be. He has that power. So warning lang sa violators. (It’s a warning to violators),” he said.

Nograles also noted that the 1987 Constitution is “very clear” that Duterte can only enforce a martial rule when there is rebellion or invasion.

Thus, the President would only give soldiers and policemen a “bigger” role in the imposition of the ECQ, should quarantine violations persist, he said.

“What he only means is the police and the military will become stricter sa (in the) implementation ng (of the) ECQ or it could mean that they will play a bigger role in the implementation,” he said.

As of April 13, some 107,088 individuals have violated the quarantine protocols.

Despite this, the possible declaration of martial law has not been discussed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), Nograles said.

“But are we talking about martial law? Is martial law now being considered by the IATF? Yung Constitution is very clear naman, in case of invasion or rebellion. So yun po. Pag wala naman yun, hindi naman ano ang martial law (The Constitution is very clear that it can only be promulgated in case of invasion or rebellion. If there is none, martial law is not an option),” he said.

Nograles, nevertheless, noted that quarantine violators should learn how to behave so Duterte would not be compelled to take drastic measures.

The entire Luzon was placed under ECQ until April 30 due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

There is no decision yet as to whether the ECQ in Luzon would be lifted or extended anew.

As of Thursday, the Philippines had 5,660 Covid-19 infections, with 362 deaths and 435 recoveries. (PNA)

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