The government will allow the military and police to take over if Filipinos continue to break quarantine rules, President Rodrigo Duterte warned last night in a publicly broadcast speech.
Duterte made the threat after reports emerged that some Metro Manila residents were caught participating in cockfights, drinking with friends, and shopping in droves in wet markets despite the ongoing Luzon lockdown, which was implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority also posted a photo showing the bumper-to-bumper traffic on EDSA on Wednesday, and the same occurred on the South Luzon Expressway a day prior.
“I’m just asking for your discipline,” the president said in English and Filipino. “If you don’t want to believe me, the military and police will take over, I’m ordering them now to be ready. The police and military will enforce social distancing and the curfew. They’ll do it, it’s like martial law.”
“You choose. I really don’t want to do this but if the nation is in peril and you are undisciplined, [I will do it]…You should follow because if not you will face the military and police next,” he warned.
Members of the police are already implementing social distancing rules in different parts of the metro, and Duterte did not explain how this martial law-like scenario that he had envisioned will be any different from the current set-up. Former military generals, despite their lack of medical training, are also neck-deep in implementing the government’s national action plan against COVID, including Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
In his speech, Duterte once again claimed that treatment for COVID-19 was in the works and that it will be available in the next few days. The president, who is not a scientist, said that he learned about this from watching news programs such as those airing on the BBC.
“What they have, it’s like a killer. You’ll take it, it’s not from the body, it’s a chemical, I suppose. The problem with it is that it will kill other cells, it will kill them. That could be a problem but the experiments are getting into high gear,” he said.
“They might be able to find a cure in a few days. Once they have perfected it, and they are ready to market the medicine, I will lift [the lockdown] immediately. Not even a single moment of delay.”
It was just on Monday night that Duterte claimed that an unnamed pharmaceutical company is working on an “antibody” that could treat COVID-19, and that it will be marketed sometime in May. He promised that the lockdown will be lifted when this happens.
In Manila, the Philippine General Hospital is using an experimental treatment where blood is transfused from a recovered COVID-19 person into another patient. Research has shown that the blood of a recovered person contains antibodies that have successfully fought off the virus which could help other patients recover.
Meanwhile, there are at least 5,660 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country as of yesterday afternoon, with 362 deaths and 465 recoveries.
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