We welcome the reassuring words of Gen. Archie Gamboa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), who said Thursday that the PNP will not be out to shoot dead those who gather to protest the alleged lack of food in this time of quarantine, such as in the demonstration held by the Kadamay in Barangay Bagong Pagasa in Quezon City last Tuesday.
“Of course not,” the PNP chief said. “Probably the President just overemphasized on implementing the law in this time of crisis. We see the strong message and I think all the PNP personnel understood it.”
He was commenting on President Duterte’s reaction to a rally held by the urban poor group Kadamay who said they had not received any food packs in the lockdown that began two weeks earlier. Police broke up the protest and the President said the next day: “Follow the government at this time because it is critical that we have order…. And do not harm the health workers, the doctors… because that is a serious crime. My orders to the police and the military, if anyone creates trouble and their lives are in danger, shoot them dead!”
This is not the first time the President issued such an order. He did the same in connection with the police campaign against illegal drugs. In both instances, he said “shoot them dead” if their own lives are in danger.
It is evident that the President is determined to maintain order as he leads the nation through these difficult times. He has called for the distribution of food aid to the most needy ones among us, but evidently the aid program has not yet reached everyone.
The Kadamay, which has used mass demonstrations in the past to get the government to act on its petitions, should know that these are different times, with a lockdown and quarantine in place. They were thus warned by the President.
General Gamboa has quickly assured the nation that the police will not be out shooting people because of the President’s angry reaction to the Kadamay rally. “Of course not,” he said, when asked if the PNP will shoot dead those who rally in violation of the quarantine. “Probably the President just overemphasized on implementing the law in this time of crisis.”
But the President has made his point. The times call for a unified response to the cororonavirus which is now raging all over the world. The Philippines has managed to keep down the number of its cases to 2,633 and deaths to 107 as of Friday.
It seems our quick action in locking down Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, and the declaration of a state the country have succeeded in limiting the infections , when most other countries did nothing for one entire month, and so the global number of cases has now passed one million and more than 50s ,000 have now died.
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