Fact check: Duterte says he 'hates' ordering police to arrest violators
President Rodrigo Duterte pins a medal on Ozamiz City police chief Jovie Espenido during the 116th anniversary of the police service at Camp Crame.
The STAR/Krizjohn Rosales, File photo
Fact check: Duterte says he 'hates' ordering police to arrest violators
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - July 21, 2020 - 12:57pm

MANILA, Philippines — At one of his habitually impunctual meetings with Cabinet officials taped Monday night but aired Tuesday morning, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that he hates arresting people for violating quarantine rules. 

"You know, personally, I hate to arrest people for the mere violation of a rule, which is that they have to...the problem is that it has to be cooperation [on their part] and the mayors have to do more," the chief executive said. 

He was talking about quarantine violators caught without face masks. 

READ: Duterte urges police to 'have no qualms' in arresting those not wearing face masks

In the same briefing, though, he also said: “We don’t have any qualms in arresting people,” saying that spending time in detention would "give (them) a lesson for all time." The ongoing arrests of quarantine violators have been flagged by lawmakers as "overzealous" and "disproportionate."

“A simple violation of not wearing a mask and (practicing) social distancing…can be a serious crime transmitting the (coronavirus.) The theory is that you are a carrier. You should wear a mask so as not to pass on the (virus) to the other guys,” he added. 

This comes as law enforcement looks to intensify its operations on the barangay level by using the same "strategy" as its "anti-tambay" campaign in 2018. Details on what it called a "house to house" campaign to weed out coronavirus patients are still largely unclear, with some government officials claiming no such program exists. 

Interior Undersecretary on Barangay Affairs Martin Diño just the day before endorsed a potential "shame campaign" against citizens showing a "lack of discipline and concern from some of our pasaway (stubborn) countrymen."

Though he claims to hate arresting people, his directives to law enforcement and pronouncements during his public hearings over the 126 days of community quarantine paint a different picture. 

'Shoot them dead'

Speaking of the country's Left and who will continue to hold protests at a separate hearing in April, Duterte asked cops to not hesitate before firing their guns at them. 

This hearing came after a spontaneous protest involving residents from urban poor community Sitio San Roque in Barangay Bagong Pag-asa, Quezon City who said that they did not receive any food and aid from the government. 

Duterte claimed, incorrectly, that urban poor group Kadamay instigated the protest. 

“My orders to the police and the military, including the barangay – if there would be conflict and there is an occasion that they fight and put your lives in danger, shoot them dead...Tingnan ninyo, patay, kesa magulo kayo dyan, e di ilibing ko na kayo, yang libing akin yan. Huwag ninyo na subukan ang gobyerno kasi ang gobyerno ito.”

(Look, instead of causing trouble, [better that you are] dead. I will bury you instead, that funeral is on me. Do not try the government because it is the government.)

READ: Duterte warns groups disrupting quarantine | Duterte urged to walk back 'shoot them dead' remark

“Intindihin ninyo yan, kaya 'wag kayo magagawa ng riot-riot dyan because I will order you detained at bibitawan ko kayo pagkatapos na wala na itong COVID...Huwag ninyong subukan ang Pilipino. Do not try to test it. We are ready for you, gulo o barilan or patayan, I will not hesitate (to tell) my soldiers to shoot you. I will not hesitate to order the police to arrest and detain you,” the president said.

(Understand that, so don't make a riot there because I will order you detained and I will release you after there is no more COVID...Do not try the Filipino. Do not try to test it. We are ready for you, if you want trouble or a gunfight or even killing, I will not hesitate (to tell) my soldiers to shoot you. I will not hesitate to order the police to arrest and detain you.)

RELATED: June 12 protests will be dispersed, IATF protocols will be 'enforced' — PNP | UP Cebu protesters 'tried the tolerance of police, went too far' — PNP chief |

READ: Students allege harassment, procedural violations in Iligan City protest arrest

Since then, although the national police has promised that it would maximum tolerance, instances of peaceful protest have yielded warrantless arrests of their own that only led to procedural violations of the very health protocols supposedly being enforced.

Witnesses and victims say that some of them have been violent. Safeguards against warrantless arrest are still in place amid a state of national emergency. 

'It will be like martial law'

At a separate address also in April, Duterte asked the public to discipline themselves in observing social distancing and said that he would order the military and police to take over its enforcement, which he likened to Martial Law.

"I'm just asking for your discipline. If you don't believe me, the military and the police will take over. I am ordering the police and military now to be ready. They will enforce social distancing and the curfew," he said in Filipino in his live-streamed public address.

RELATED: Duterte asks public for 'discipline' in following quarantine rules | PNP: We'll go 'straight to arrests' in 'martial law-type' quarantine

"It will be like martial law. You choose," he said, adding he does not want that but he would be forced to do it "if the fate of the country is at stake and you have no discipline."

Duterte's warm ties with law enforcement have been no secret in the public eye. Among his campaign promises was to double salary for the national police and the military, both of which he has generally made good on

This, he said in 2019, was because police officers and soldiers sacrifice their lives and they deserve a good compensation for their service.

READ: Duterte to PNP: Kill 1,000, I'll protect you | Duterte orders cops to kill 'idiots' violently resisting arrest

The likes of Sen. Koko Pimentel and Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, Metro Manila police chief, have drawn the public's furor for also breaking quarantine rules, though the latter has urged the public to move on from the incident after issuing an "apology" that also denied his breach ever happened despite having pictures taken by his own office circulating online.

Neither of the two have been called "pasaway" by any member of the national government, with the chief executive even himself clearing Sinas of his flagrant and well-documented violation, saying Metro Manila's top cop should not be blamed that his people wanted to celebrate his birthday with him. 

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