Philippines' Duterte threatens martial law if communist rebels disrupt COVID-19 aid

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to declare martial law if communist rebels disrupted the flow of relief goods for Filipinos impacted by the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, and asked his military to be ready.
"I am now warning everybody, I am putting notice to the armed forces and police. I might declare martial law and there will be no turning back," he said at the beginning of the meeting on the extension of coronavirus containment measures, which was screened on television on Friday morning (Apr 24). 

Duterte has long been at odds with the New People's Army, worsened by repeated breakdowns in a peace process he launched at the beginning of his presidency.
The country on Thursday reported 16 new coronavirus deaths and 271 confirmed infections, bringing the national tally to 462 deaths and 6,981 infections. 
Last week, Duterte had threatened a martial law-like crackdown to stop people flouting a lockdown in the nation's capital.
This was after authorities reported an upsurge of cars on Manila's roads, which have been nearly deserted since a sweeping lockdown was imposed a month ago on about half the country's 110 million people.

"I'm just asking for a little discipline. If not, if you do not believe me, then the military and police will take over," Duterte said in a televised speech.
"The military and police will enforce social distancing at curfew ... It's like martial law. You choose," he added.
Duterte has also previously warned violators of the virus lockdown measures they could be shot for causing trouble
Last Tuesday, the Philippines announced that it has started a more aggressive testing programme targetting people working at or admitted to Manila hospitals that were treating patients of COVID-19. ​​​​​​​



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