Amnesty International Philippines
4 April 2020
Responding to President Duterte’s latest address to the nation on the full implementation of his shoot-to-kill orders, Amnesty International Philippines’ Section Director Butch Olano said:
“Autocratic leaders around the world are using fear of the COVID-19 pandemic to further stifle criticism and dissent. President Duterte is no exception. Days after issuing ‘shoot-to-kill’ orders to the PNP and AFP, he used an entire address to the nation to justify arbitrary arrests.
“This is an unprecedented health crisis – but President Duterte is focusing on attacking freedoms of speech and assembly. He is downplaying the nation’s plea for better services when the priority should be to fulfill the government’s obligation to provide health care and vital relief to all persons without discrimination.
“It is deplorable for President Duterte to be inciting violence and to level yet more threats in the midst of the dangers facing the nation right now. The Filipino people need better health services, job assurance and food on their plates, not guns and goons.”
In his latest televised address to the nation, President Duterte defended his order to PNP, AFP and barangay officials to shoot dead anyone who may protest or question government measures in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. “There are so many complaints and I’m sure in the coming days, there will be arrests,” Duterte said, adding that people should “submit to the police” when questioned or arrested.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President’s threats against violators of quarantine rules and “enemies of the state” is “not a crime.” He added that the “law allows the use of lethal violence when the person’s life using it hangs on the balance”, and that President Duterte is tasked by the Constitution to enforce it and the laws of the land.
Panelo also warned “enemies of the state” that “any attempt at destabilizing the government and any and all acts calculated to impede the swift and smooth implementation of the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act to stop the spread of COVID-19 to the detriment of the general welfare will be crushed.”