President Rodrigo Duterte has once again raised the martial law threat, this time in reaction to the military’s claim that communist rebels had blocked the delivery of aid in some parts of the country in the midst of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In his public address aired on April 24, Duterte said he “might have” to declare martial law if “lawlessness” by the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), would continue on a national scale.
But nearly seven weeks earlier, the president made clear that the community quarantine — declared on March 12 to cover Metro Manila and later expanded to an enhanced community quarantine for the whole Luzon — is “not martial law.”
Watch this video to see how the president’s statements evolved.
Duterte’s latest martial law pronouncement came on the heels of incidents that became viral on social media involving police officers enforcing quarantine protocols.
On April 22, retired soldier Winston Ragos, who was said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, was shot dead by police following a heated argument over his supposed violation of quarantine protocols. A few days prior, armed cops reportedly entered a private condominium in Taguig without a warrant and accosted residents for allegedly not practicing physical distancing measures.
Critics and rights groups have also denounced the government’s alleged use of the COVID-19 crisis to impose martial rule. Groups, including Amnesty International Philippines and Karapatan, have warned that a “militarist approach” is not effective in dealing with the current health crisis and that additional powers vested in the police and military must be compliant to international human rights laws.
RTVMalacanang, Public Address on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) 3/12/2020, March 12, 2020
RTVMalacanang, Message / Meeting with the IATF-EID (Speech) 3/16/2020, March 16, 2020
RTVMalacanang, Talk to the People on COVID-19 4/16/2020, April 16, 2020
Philippine Information Officer, Police apprehends 2,602 quarantine violators in Tarlac, April 23, 2020
People’s Television WATCH: IATF Virtual Presser | April 17, 2020
RTVMalacanang, Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Sec. Harry Roque Jr. 4/20/2020, April 20, 2020
RTVMALACAÑANG, Spox Roque Press Briefing New Executive Building, MALACAÑANG, Manila April 24, 2020, April 24, 2020
ABS-CBN News, No more warnings: PNP to make arrests in ‘martial law-type’ lockdown – chief | DZMM , April 20, 2020
RTVMalacanang, IATF-EID Meeting and Talk to the People 4/23/2020, April 23, 2020
Winston Ragos shooting
- Philstar.com, Quezon City cop shoots ‘mentally challenged’ quarantine violator, April 22, 2020
- Inquirer.net, Checkpoint conflict: Alleged retired soldier shot dead by cop in Quezon City, April 22, 2020
- Rappler.com, QC cop faces criminal probe for killing ‘mentally challenged’ lockdown violator, April 22, 2020
Taguig police raid
- CNN Philippines, Taguig mayor says he ordered police to check condo for possible quarantine violation, April 21, 2020
- GMA News Online, Taguig condo admin mulls charges vs cops who stormed compound, April 20, 2020
- Rappler.com, ‘They deserve praise’: PNP clears cops who barged into posh Taguig condo, April 20, 2020
Martial law critics
- Karapatan, Karapatan decries Duterte’s threats of imposing martial law
- Amnesty International PhilippinesAny enhanced powers amid COVID-19 must safeguard human rights
Alleged NPA attacks
- CNN Philippines, Army: Rebels attack soldiers guarding aid distribution, 2 killed, April 22, 2020
- Commission on Human Rights, Statement of CHR spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on a number of atrocities involving government forces and the New People’s Army, April 24, 2020
- Philippine Revolution Web Central AFP is spreading false information, April 12, 2020