‘No martial law, just its style of discipline’

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
�No martial law, just its style of discipline�
A member of the PNP Highway Patrol Group asks a motorist for documents after stopping his vehicle on EDSA yesterday. Police have been accosting and ticketing motorists for non-essential travel and disobeying quarantine measures following an increase in the volume of vehicles on the road in the last few days.
Boy Santos / File

MANILA, Philippines — The imposition of martial law would be unlikely without invasion or rebellion in the country, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said yesterday.

What President Duterte wants is to impose strict disciplinary procedures similar to martial law, to compel people to abide by community quarantine measures meant to contain the coronavirus pandemic, Nograles explained.

“What the President said last night is very clear: martial law-type. Meaning to say, you know, just for those who won’t budge and continue to disobey the rules… then we will really employ and ask the military to come in and help with the police,” Nograles said during his virtual presser.

“Something like that, that’s what he means,” said the spokesman for the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Duterte, in his televised address on Thursday evening, said he would call in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to enforce quarantine rules that include social distancing and stay-at-home policies.

Pressed further, Nograles said the present situation does not warrant the declaration since there is no rebellion or invasion, the two factors under the Constitution which would allow the President to declare martial law.

“The Constitution is very clear, ‘in cases of invasion or rebellion,’ OK? So, the absence (of these factors won’t merit) martial law. But the President is only trying to emphasize to the people that he also has the ability to ask for the AFP and military to help impose order if need be,” Nograles added.

“He has that power, so it’s a warning for violators and warning to violators to shape up, behave. Let’s keep order,” Nograles said.

Nograles also shot down the statement of presidential spokesman Harry Roque that a total lockdown is an option being looked into by the IATF at the end of the April 30 enhanced community quarantine.

“Actually, I don’t know what spokesman Harry means in terms of total lockdown. So maybe we should ask him what’s the definition of total lockdown because ECQ is already… we are now under ECQ, so I don’t know what that total lockdown is,” he said, referring to the enhanced community quarantine.

Nograles explained that the President has tasked a select group, including the country’s economic managers, to present possible scenarios post-quarantine.

“That will be presented to the IATF on Monday and we will discuss what that scenario or possible scenario will be. What are the pros and cons? What are we ready to allow? What would be the new do’s and don’ts? What would be the new guidelines, etc., after April 30?” he said.

“Ultimately, President Duterte will decide based on the recommendations,” Nograles said.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the public could brace for more arrests as more police are set to be deployed to implement quarantine protocols.

In an interview with radio dzMM, Año urged citizens to strictly follow quarantine procedures in the homestretch of the quarantine period, as implementation will be strict. “Stay at home, don’t go out,” he said.

He also noted that there is a possibility that the lockdown will be extended, especially as there are still many quarantine violators being tallied by the police.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said they noted that some local officials are already in favor of “more radical proposals” amid the growing number of quarantine violators.

“The PNP stands squarely in support of President Duterte’s intention to decisively enforce a total lockdown for the entire period under enhanced community quarantine,” he said in a statement.

Gamboa noted that violators are feeling they can get away with not following protocols as he said the PNP cannot ideally detain all offenders.

“Trust me, their brush with the law today will not go unpunished. There will be a day of reckoning for all lawbreakers,” he said as he warned of criminal charges against them.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that the “civil law will remain supreme” and that “human rights will be respected” should the AFP and PNP take over the quarantine.

“The public has nothing to fear even if it is ‘like martial law.’ It simply means more military presence to help the police enforce the law. And that is for the protection, not oppression, of the people,” Guevarra said.

“The courts will continue to function, civil authorities will remain supreme, human rights will be respected. The military will be there not only to help keep law and order but more importantly, to instill public discipline, which is most needed in crisis times like this,” he added.

Asked if Duterte can declare martial law on the grounds of a pandemic, Guevarra said that the President knows that he may declare martial law only in actual cases of rebellion or invasion, “not on the ground of a public health emergency.”

“But he may call out the armed forces whenever necessary to prevent or suppress lawless violence, including lawless violence that may arise due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Guevarra added. – With Romina Cabrera, Robertzon Ramirez

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