A 63-year-old farmer, who allegedly threatened village officials and police officers, was shot dead in the Philippine province of Agusan del Norte, authorities reported Saturday. The farmer, identified as Junie Dungog Pinar, was believed to be drunk when he threatened officials manning the coronavirus checkpoint in the town of Nasipit.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that a local health worker stopped Pinar at the checkpoint for not wearing a protective mask. According to a police report, “the suspect got angry, uttering provoking words and eventually attacked the personnel using a scythe.”
Police Staff Sgt. Rolly Llones, who was assigned at the location, attempted to stop Pinar from assaulting other people, but the suspect’s actions prompted the officer to shoot him.
This incident is the first reported case of police shooting a civilian after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered state security forces to “shoot any violators dead” during the government’s community quarantine measures, in a bid to quell the spread of coronavirus.
Despite the stringent measures, many residents from a Manila slum took to the streets on April 1 to protest a lack of supplies and argued that they have not received any food rations since the “enhanced community quarantine” began on March 16. Officers clashed with the protesters, which led to the arrest of 21 individuals after they refused to go back to their homes. Authorities also filed various criminal charges against the people arrested.
FLASH REPORT: Mga residente ng Sitio San Roque na nag-rally dahil sa umano'y kakulangan ng relief packs sa QC, pinag-aaresto na ng QCPD | via @dzrh5 Val Gonzales #DZRHat80 #COVID19Alert pic.twitter.com/kIdPZlalz8
— DZRH NEWS (@dzrhnews) April 1, 2020
Later that day, Duterte delivered a televised address stating that cooperation is crucial for slowing down the pandemic and preventing the country’s health system from being overwhelmed. However, he warned violators of the lockdown measures that they would be shot dead if they cause a commotion.
“I will not hesitate. My orders are sa pulis pati military, pati mga barangay na pagka ginulo at nagkaroon ng okasyon na lumaban at ang buhay ninyo ay nalagay sa alanganin, shoot them dead,” Duterte stated.
(I will not hesitate. My orders [to] the police and military, as well as the barangay, if there is trouble and in the event that [violators] put up a fight, putting your lives in danger, shoot them dead.)
“Naintindihan ninyo? Patay. Eh kaysa mag-gulo kayo diyan, eh ‘di ilibing ko na kayo,” he added.
(Do you understand? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I’ll send you to your grave.)
Netizens slammed Duterte for giving a “shoot-to-kill” order, as well as the Philippine government’s overall approach to contain the pandemic, which has left families starving and unable to cope with the quarantine measures. However, Duterte defended his statements in another televised address aired on Friday, April 3, where he said that the Filipino public must realize how dire the situation is.
“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.” (Related: Coronavirus death rate higher in America due to rampant obesity.)
The Philippines currently has 3,764 cases of COVID-19, with 177 fatalities. To minimize the spread of coronavirus, Duterte put millions of residents from Luzon, the country’s largest and most populous island, under strict lockdown.
Originally ending on April 14, the lockdown – or as the government calls it, “enhanced community quarantine” (ECQ) – has been extended, as per recommendation by the country’s Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease.
Philippine Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, in a virtual briefing on Tuesday, announced that “the ECQ is hereby extended until 11:59 p.m. until April 30.”
According to a report by ABS-CBN News, the Philippine government is delaying the “peak” of their fight against COVID-19 to 2021. However, the government is also eyeing to start mass testing by April 14, as authorities begin to fast-track the accreditation of laboratories with coronavirus testing capabilities.
As of writing, the Philippines only has 10 accredited coronavirus testing centers, which are struggling with the marginally increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Nograles said that the government is making use of this quarantine extension to maximize the country’s testing capabilities, increasing the number to around 20,000 tests per day with a 24-hour turnaround time for test results by the end of April.
Head over to Pandemic.news for the latest updates on the global coronavirus pandemic.