PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has justified his decision to place Luzon under enhanced community quarantine to fight the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In a video message released early yesterday, the President said the situation called for the implementation of an “extreme measure.”
“We are in a critical time. We have resorted to this extreme measure of an enhanced quarantine for Luzon because the magnitude of the threat that we are facing calls for it,” he said.
“I’m really very sorry but I have to do it.”
The President imposed strict quarantine measures in Luzon to contain the spread of the virus, including sweeping restrictions on travel and mass gatherings and closure of most businesses.
Duterte had also asked the public to stay home during the quarantine period which began on March 17 and will end on April 13.
“By its nature, it severely restricts the freedom of movement of our countrymen, and thus deprives many people of the ability of earning a living for the coming weeks,” he said.
The President, however, warned local government units (LGUs) against defying protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), the body supervising efforts to contain the spread of the virus that has infected 217 people (including 17 deaths) in the country.
In a statement, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Malacañang has received reports that some LGUs did not follow the guidelines and have enforced their own measures in contravention to the specified standards established by the IATF “for strict enforcement.”
“Sundin na lang natin tutal para man ito sa lahat. Do not try to overdo things or think that you can do what you want to do because that is not allowed,” Duterte said.
Errant local officials will face administrative sanctions and criminal prosecution, he added.
“Let our country lead the way in imposing a lockdown [that] is strict enough to effectively kill COVID-19, liberal enough so that our people will not die of hunger, and orderly enough, so that our country will not be driven towards chaos during this difficult time,” Duterte said.