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A man is seen wearing a mask with the name of President Duterte and his election campaign slogan on April 5, 2020 in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines.

Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

On Monday, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte defended the Philippines’ handling of the pandemic at a State of the Nation address and said it managed to prevent 3.5 million infections.

Despite one of the longest lockdowns around the world, as of July 29, the Philippines has 83,673 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,947 deaths.

“Together,” he said, “we shall fight this pandemic with the same fervor as our campaign against illegal drugs, criminality, insurgency and corruption in high places and entrenched parochial interests.”

Between March 17 and July 25, Philippine police made 76,000 arrests, and recorded more than 260,000 violations of curfew or lockdown rules, according to The Washington Post.

More than 900 complaints alleging torture, inhumane treatment, arrests, or detention were made to the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights.

University of the Philippines Diliman political science professor Aries Arugay told the Post Duterte’s government did not know how to deal with a threat, except by using force and limiting people’s freedoms. “In other words, they’re a one-trick pony,’ he said.

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is using tactics from his controversial “war on drugs” — including mass arrest and threatening civilians with violence — to take on the coronavirus pandemic, and so far 76,000 arrests have been made. 

On Monday, Duterte made a State of the Nation address, where he defended the Philippines’ handling of the pandemic, and said it had managed to prevent 3.5 million infections. 

Despite one of the longest lockdowns around the world, as of July 29, the Philippines, a nation of 107 million people, has 83,673 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,947 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

 “Together,” he said, “we shall fight this pandemic with the same fervor as our campaign against illegal drugs, criminality, insurgency and corruption in high places and entrenched parochial interests.”

Story continues

Between March 17 and July 25, Philippine police made 76,000 arrests, and recorded more than 260,000 curfew or lockdown violations, according to The Washington Post.

In that same timeframe, more than 900 complaints alleging torture, inhumane treatment, arrests, or detention were made to the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights. 

University of the Philippines Diliman political science professor Aries Arugay told The Post Duterte’s government did not know how to deal with a threat, except by using force and limiting people’s freedoms. 

“In other words, they’re a one-trick pony,’ he said. 

Duterte’s drug war, which began in mid-2016 after he was elected, is responsible for tens of thousands of killings, many of which were undertaken by police who basically have immunity. 

In April, he carried on with the rhetoric announcing that coronavirus troublemakers would be shot dead by the military.

Last week, police were ordered to arrest anyone who was outside without a mask. 

In a recorded address, Duterte said spreading COVID-19 was a “serious crime,” and the government did not have “any qualms in arresting people.”

As cases rose, the government announced a variety of new techniques that it planned to use to try to stop the pandemic, according to the Telegraph.

Police were going to go from house-to-house checking if inhabitants had symptoms; they were asking neighbors to report suspected cases; and people were going to be picked up and taken to testing facilities, and faced having to go into quarantine centers if they had, or were likely to have, COVID-19.

Checking houses one by one, and having neighbors identify the sick resembled police tactics used in the drug war.

House-to-house inspections had led to violent outcomes — including police killing suspects in their homes — and asking neighbors to report each other could result in lies, The Post reported. 

The government backed down on conducting house-to-house searches and said having neighbors provide tips to the police was not an official policy. 

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