HOUSE Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday, April 3, said President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to shoot troublemakers dead should not be taken literally.
“As usual po, I always look at the intent—I always take the President seriously, but not always literally,” Cayetano said.
“Kasi context n’on yung Kadamay sinugod ng riot doon and it can really spark civil disobedience, ‘yung context ng pagsasabi ng Pangulo is ‘sumunod kayo sa quarantine, I will not tolerate violence’,” he added.
Cayetano said that authorities will still exercise maximum tolerance.
“But of course ang ‘shoot to kill’ ang ibig sabihin n’on, when he was talking about it, is that if they resist or mag r-riot sila; kasi ang general order naman ng police is maximum tolerance pero kapag tumigas ang ulo at hindi sumunod sa quarantine ang mangyayari aarestuhin, ‘di ba,” Cayetano said.
In a late-night address to the nation on April 1, Duterte ordered the police, military and barangay officials to shoot dead those who create disturbance and instigate riots.
The President issued the order several hours after more than 20 people from Barangay Bagong Pag-asa in Quezon City were arrested for staging a protest to complain about the failure of the local government to distribute food aid as promised.
Several residents who gathered at the site of the commotion said they went there thinking they were going to receive relief goods.
The entire Luzon has been under an enhanced community quarantine since March 17, forcing majority of the island’s over 53 million population to stay at home as a measure against the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Informal sector workers have lost their sources of livelihood while some employed individuals have lost their jobs after businesses were also forced to shut down, except those that produce or market essential products and services.
Following the protest in Quezon City, Duterte announced that distribution of cash and food aid to qualified families will now be undertaken by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, instead of the local government units.
The government has earmarked about P200 billion for a social amelioration program that will give each of 18 million poor families a monthly subsidy of P5,000 to P8,000 for two months.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to come up with clearer guidelines to assure the public that there will be no abuse of power.
“In this way, the public can expect greater accountability from the police by showing that the PNP will remain committed in their motto “to serve and protect” the Filipino people, especially our rights to life and liberty,” the commission said.
“In the end, the people must always have a voice in a democracy. Dissent should not be taken as threats, but as an exercise of rights in a free society,” it added. (Jove T. Moya/SunStar Philippines)