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Coronavirus: Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte says he will bury people who break quarantine laws

The president of the Philippines says people who violate coronavirus lockdown rules could be shot dead, saying “I will bury you”.

Amnsesty International condemned the remarks as “deeply alarming” and said they follow reports of inhumane punishments for lawbreakers of the coronavirus lockdown, such as being detained in dog cages and sitting for hours in the sun.

In a televised address, President Rodrigo Duterte said everyone must follow home quarantine measures to ensure the country’s poor health system is not overwhelmed.

Image: A Facebook screenshot of what activists say is an officer with five youths locked inside a dog cage after breaking curfew in Laguna province, the Philippines. Pic: Human Rights Watch

“It is getting worse. So once again I’m telling you the seriousness of the problem and that you must listen,” Duterte said.

“My orders to the police and military… if there is trouble and there’s an occasion that they fight back and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead.


“Is that understood? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I will bury you.”

Responding to Mr Duterte’s comments, the national police chief on Thursday said no-one would be shot, and that officers understood the president was demonstrating his seriousness about public order.

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The Philippines has recorded 107 coronavirus deaths and 2,633 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.

All but three cases have been recorded in the past three weeks and the rate is growing by hundreds every day.

Image: Gymnasiums have been made into homeless shelters for those unable to work due to lockdown measures in Manila

Hours before Mr Duterte’s conference, there were media reports of several arrests of residents in a poor area of Manila who were protesting about sufficient government food aid.

Amnesty International UK said residents told the activist group that police violently dispersed the demonstrators with wooden sticks, including a man and his baby.

Amnesty International’s Philippines Director Butch Olano said the president’s “policy of shoot to kill” was “a devastating hallmark of his presidency.”

“Deadly, unchecked force should never be referred to as a method to respond to an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Image: Protests have been staged against Duterte in the past over various issues, including women’s rights

Amnesty International claimed that more than 17,000 people had been arrested for violations related to coronavirus lockdown and curfew orders.

Last week, Human Rights Watch alleged police and local officials had forced people arrested for breaking quarantine rules into dog cages and made them sit for hours in the sun as punishment.

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It said officials in Santa Cruz town, just south of Manila, admitted locking up five young people inside a dog cage on March 20, justifying their action by saying those they arrested had violated curfew and been verbally abusive.

It also claimed officials forced curfew violators in Parañaque, a city within Metro Manila, to sit in the intense sun after their arrest because they had nowhere to put them, and that police killed a man north of Manila after he allegedly avoided a checkpoint.

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Police claim the man was shot because he was pursuing police officers.

The national Commission on Human Rights expressed concern at the strict powers Philippines authorities have to arrest people even if they “do not seriously resist” police action to abide by the curfew and other restrictions.

The national police force says their actions have been lawful.


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