PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has threatened to enlist the police and military to enforce social distancing and curfew in place of village law enforcers if people continue to violate quarantine rules.
“I’m just asking for your discipline,” Mr. Duterte said in an address on Thursday night. “Otherwise, the military and police will take over,” he said, adding that “it will be like martial law.”
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles on Friday said the President was just trying to emphasize he would do everything to impose order.
He added that under the Constitution, martial rule may only be declared if there is invasion or rebellion.
In his speech, Mr. Duterte also ordered the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to investigate local governments that continue to tolerate cockfights and drinking.
“Do not expect any help from me,” he told local governments.
Mr. Duterte also asked crematoriums not to raise their fees amid the health crisis.
He also ordered the Department of Health (DOH) to investigate nine hospitals accused of refusing patients.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez in a statement said the National Government should pay for the burial and cremation of coronavirus patients who died.
“We should discourage relatives from directly participating in these arrangements for their own protection and safety, as they would be exposed to the virus,” he said.
Mr. Rodriguez said people should follow the Muslim tradition of burying their dead within 24 hours to prevent the virus from spreading.
Mr. Duterte locked down Luzon island on March 17 for a month, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain the pandemic. He later extended the so-called enhanced community quarantine by two more weeks until April 30.
Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman said lifting the lockdown could lead to a resurgence in coronavirus disease 2019 cases.
“The government must heed the advice of world health authorities and scientists not to prematurely lift the lockdown and social distancing restrictions because a one-time or limited lockdown cannot effectively control the spread of viral transmission,” he said in a statement.
Also on Friday, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte said the province had bought 20,000 rapid test kits for COVID-19 from Abbott Laboratories that were due to arrive this week.
These would allow the province to test both frontline healthcare workers and suspected cases, the congressman said in a statement.
Mr. Villafuerte said Camarines Sur had bought the kits using the P6-billion fund from the National Government for 81 local units.
Abbott has developed its own ‘serology test” to detect antibodies in patients who have been exposed to the new coronavirus, he said. — Genshen L. Espedido and Charmaine A. Tadalan