Opposition Senator Leila De Lima on Wednesday said that President Rodrigo Duterte's plan to deploy the military to communities for quarantine enforcement amid the COVID-19 pandemic is unconstitutional.
"Mukhang matagal nang hindi nakakapagbasa ng Saligang Batas si Duterte. Maaari lamang i-deploy ang militar sa mga sibilyang komunidad kung merong lawless violence, rebellion o invasion. O di kaya’y bahagi ng humanitarian assistance," De Lima said in a statement.
"Ang pagbabantay sa mga sibilyan na parang mga kriminal o rebelde ay hindi maituturing na humanitarian work," she added.
De Lima condemned what she called the government's "militaristic approach" to the pandemic.
She said Duterte keeps using a hammer, "when what is needed is a surgical precision tool."
"Alam na natin na kapag nahuhuling tulog sa pansitan si Duterte, ang palagi niyang panakip butas ay ang pulis at militar para lokohin ang taumbayan na meron siyang ginagawa kahit wala naman talaga," she added.
On Monday, Duterte said he plans to deploy the military to augment the police force in enforcing quarantine restrictions as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continued to rise.
Contrary to De Lima's perspective, Senator Senator Sherwin Gatchalian welcomed the possible deployment of troops to communities for pandemic response.
"I agree that we need to mobilize the military in so far as putting more boots on the ground in enforcing the MECQ because if we don't enforce the MECQ to the letter then it is useless closing the economy and not enforcing it well," he said.
He added that the problem with COVID-19 does not only involve medical issues but also logistical ones, hence the appointment of "experienced" retired generals in the task force against the pandemic.
Senator Bato Dela Rosa also said uniformed personnel are better equipped, and quickly deployable for enforcement of quarantine protocols. — BM, GMA News