Philippines Logs First Police Quarantine Killing Since Duterte Said ‘Shoot Them Dead’

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers his state of the nation address at Congress in Manila on July 22, 2019.  (Photo by Noel CELIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images

Police confirmed on Sunday that they shot dead a 63-year-old man on the Philippine island of Mindanao after refusing to cooperate with coronavirus mandates. The incident occurred in the town of Nasipit in the southern province of Agusan del Norte.

The suspect was believed to have been drunk when he threatened village officials and police manning a local checkpoint, erected to control people’s movement amid Chinese coronavirus restrictions throughout the country. The man was shot dead by a police officer who was trying to pacify him.

“The suspect was cautioned by a village health worker … for not wearing a face mask,” the police report said. “But the suspect got angry, uttering provoking words, and eventually attacked the personnel using a scythe.”

The incident is the first reported case in the Philippines of police shooting a civilian for refusing to follow mandates meant to curb the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte warned the country that he would order the police and the military to shoot anyone who got in the way of security officers enforcing quarantine measures.

“Shoot them dead,” Duterte was quoted as saying in an impromptu address on national television on April 1.

“My orders are to the police and military, also the barangay [district officials], that if there is trouble or the situation arises that people fight and your lives are on the line, shoot them dead,” Duterte said.

On April 3, Duterte doubled down on his threat to quarantine disruptors in another televised address. He urged the public to grasp the gravity of the situation, claiming he would end the lives of those who disobey.

“Without these restrictions, this will not end,” he said. “So, if you don’t want to follow, then I will finish you to protect the lives of the innocent who don’t want to die.”

Duterte placed the entire island of Luzon –The Philippines’ main island and home to Manila – on “total lockdown” on March 16, prompting some to speculate that the lockdown would become a precursor to national martial law. Duterte denied this in his statement announcing the lockdown.

“Let me make myself clear, this is not martial law,” he said.

Since then, Duterte has threatened criminal charges and prison for quarantine violators.

On March 25, police arrested hundreds of quarantine violators on Luzon.

On Friday, Salvador Panelo, a spokesman for Duterte, said that it was “not a crime” and is constitutional for the president to order national police to shoot quarantine violators.

At press time on Monday, the Philippines had 3,660 infections and 163 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus.

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