More soldiers to conduct foot patrols, reservists may be tapped under "martial law-like" ECQ - AFP
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is prepared to deploy more troops to conduct foot patrols and to use loud speakers to remind the people to strictly follow the law once a "martial law-like" lockdown is implemented to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease in the country.
Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, said the military could also call its reservists to assist the government in the enforcement of a more stringent ECQ.
Quoting Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano, Arevalo said there would be no declaration of martial law.
"What will be implemented is the strict community quarantine. Offhand...what the people can expect is increased visibility of the vehicles of the military...to implement the traffic regulations," he said.
"Aside from vehicular patrols, there will be increased foot patrols...you will see loud speaker operation," Arevalo explained.
Currently, Arevalo said the military personnel are just helping police in manning the flow of traffic on Edsa.
But once President Rodrigo Duterte finally orders the AFP to strictly enforce ECQ, soldiers would also be dispatched even on small streets.
In using loud speakers, Arevalo said the public would always be reminded of curfew hours, use of masks, and social distancing, among others.
He recalled that in 2001, during the time of ousted President Joseph Estrada, military personnel also underwent foot patrols, but they were deployed in the malls.
But with the strict implementation of ECQ, soldiers would instead do the foot patrols on the streets, he explained.
Once the AFP is asked to assist the Philippine National Police, Arevalo assured the public, "you have nothing to be worried about because the Armed Forces know how to respect human rights."
Arevalo said that in case the need arises, the AFP might summon its reservists to assist in the strict enforcement of the lockdown.
"For the information of many, calling for the reservists is not new. They're there during calamities," he said.
"But they are not in the frontlines," Arevalo said, citing that during the Marawi siege, the AFP tapped telecommunication and electronic reservists, as well as nurses and doctors.
With the current health crisis, Arevalo also underscored the need to institutionalize the Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
He said once a college student completes ROTC, he or she is an automatic member of the reserve force.
"There is no problem about the (ROTC) system. The problem is with those implementing it," Arevalo said, adding that this was the reason people have to be replaced.
Duterte earlier said he could order the military and the police to enforce a martial law-like" lockdown if the number of COVID-19 continues to increase due to hard-headed individuals who disregard quarantine. Celerina Monte/DMS