IF TROUBLE erupts over the distribution of food aid and if their lives are at risk, the police and the military may shoot troublemakers dead.
This was the order given Wednesday evening, April 1, by President Rodrigo Duterte, who was visibly irked by reports about the protest staged by over 100 residents of Barangay Bagong Pag-asa in Quezon City Wednesday morning.
“I will not hesitate. My orders are - sa pulis pati military pati mga barangay - na pagka ginulo at nagkaroon ng okasyon na lumaban at ang buhay ninyo ay malagay sa alanganin, shoot them dead,” the President said in another late-night address to the nation on the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
Duterte blamed the leftists for the “riot”, which led to the arrest of 20 people. Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte later asked the Quezon City Police District to release the 20 people for humanitarian reasons.
The President, however, said they would not be released to set an example to those who challenge the government, create public disturbance and incite riots.
“We are ready for you - gulo o barilan o patayan. I will not hesitate. My soldiers will shoot you. I will not hesitate to order the police to arrest and detain you,” the President said.
“H’wag n’yo akong takutin ng gulo-gulo kasi kung gusto talaga ninyo ng gulo, guguluhin natin ang bayan natin, tutal wala pa namang pagkain,” he added.
He said the task of distributing cash and food assistance has been transferred from the “politicians” to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Under the government’s social amelioration program as approved by Congress, 18 million low-income families will receive between P5,000 and P8,000 monthly subsidy for two months to help them cope with the fallout from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
Duterte ordered the DSWD to hasten the distribution of rice and other food items.
He warned those involved in repacking relief goods and distributing cash to the people against dishonesty and corruption.
“H’wag ninyong kaltasan, h’wag ninyong kunan,” he said.
To the people who qualify to benefit from government assistance, Duterte urged them to wait.
“Ang pera, dadating. Ang pagkain, dadating. H’wag lang kayong magulo para smooth (ang distribution)...Do not intimidate government. Do not challenge government. Matatalo kayo. Sigurado,” the President said.
“Magtiis na lang kayo ng delayed delivery, pero dadating ‘yan at hindi ka magugutom. Hindi ka mamatay sa gutom,” he added.
The President also ordered the police to conduct patrols and prevent attacks on healthcare workers.
“Kung mahuli mo, kung ano ‘yong binubuhos niya doon sa health worker o sa doctor, ibuhos mo rin sa kanya para tabla,” Duterte said.
Healthcare workers have been attacked by unknown assailants who splashed chemicals on them.
Duterte vowed to “support and defend” frontliners in the battle against Covid-19.
The President has been granted by Congress special powers to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
The Philippines is under a state of public health emergency, state of calamity and state of national emergency because of Covid-19.
The entire Luzon, Cebu province and several other areas in the country have been placed under an enhanced community quarantine in a bid to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, or Sars-CoV-2, the highly infectious pathogen that causes Covid-19.
As of April 1, the Department of Health (DOH) said a total of 2,311 persons have been infected in the country, including 96 who had died and 50 who have recovered.
Globally, 36,405 individuals have died from Covid-19 while a total of 750,890 persons have contracted the new coronavirus as of March 31, 2020. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)