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Amid rise of COVID-19 cases in NCR, Duterte eyes using military in case of 'runaway' spread

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday threatened to deploy the military to help enforce quarantine restrictions in the event of a “runaway contagion” of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In a televised briefing at the Presidential Guest House in Davao City, Duterte said the police “cannot be anywhere and everywhere all the time” to enforce quarantine protocols.

“The military is not part of the governance yet in the matter of using force or at least intimidating you with soldiers. Far from it, we do not have that plan,” he said.

“But upang hindi talaga madala and it’s a runaway contagion, mapipilitan ako maggamit ng military kasi talagang kulang ang pulis. Ngayon, kung nandiyan ang military to enforce you to obey itong community lockdown, sumunod kayo dahil para sa inyo ‘yan,” Duterte added.

The President also noted the unrelenting surge of COVID-19 cases, especially in Metro Manila.

Metro Manila is still the epicenter of the outbreak, with 60 percent of the new infections reported on Monday logged in the capital region.

“Presently we have seen both positive and saddening developments in our continuing battle against COVID-19… We have also seen a continuous rise in COVID cases, especially in the National Capital Region,” Duterte said.

“Now, this is what you get,” he added, referring to Filipinos who flout quarantine restrictions.

The government’s COVID-19 response has been criticized for being “highly militarized,” especially in dealing with quarantine violators.

The Duterte administration’s pandemic response is also led by former military generals, including Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., among others.

Duterte earlier put the military in charge of implementing the government’s free vaccine program against COVID-19.

The Philippines saw a spike in COVID-19 infections after quarantine restrictions were loosened on June 1 in a bid to restart the economy.

Earlier on Monday, the Department of Health reported yet another record-high 6,958 new infections that brought the country’s COVID-19 tally to 136,638.

However, several surveys have found that Filipinos regularly observe health protocols when leaving their homes.  — DVM, GMA News