People who don’t obey coronavirus lockdown rules in the Philippines should be shot dead, the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte said.
In a chilling televised speech, Rodrigo Duterte urged the military to open fire on anyone who “causes trouble”.
“Is that understood? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I will bury you.”
The statement has sparked outrage among human rights group, who say he already has a history of encouraging extra-judicial killings.
Strongman Duterte urged citizens to stay at home to protect the country’s fragile health system from being overwhelmed.
The Philippines has recorded 96 coronavirus deaths and 2,311 confirmed cases, all but three in the past three weeks, with infections now being reported in the hundreds every day.
“It is getting worse. So once again I’m telling you the seriousness of the problem and that you must listen,” Duterte said.
Several arrests were made on Wednesday in capital Manila as activists protested the lack of government food aid.
There have been widespread reports of hospital workers suffering physical abuse and discrimination.
Duterte has long been accused of encouraging vigilantes and extra-judicial killings, with human rights groups claiming 12,000 people have been killed in his notorious ‘war on drugs’.
The national police chief on Thursday said police understood that Duterte was demonstrating his seriousness about public order, and no one would be shot.
Butch Olano, Amnesty International’s Philippines Director, said: “It is deeply alarming that President Duterte has extended a policy of shoot to kill, a devastating hallmark of his presidency, to law enforcement agencies in the community quarantine.
“Deadly, unchecked force should never be referred to as a method to respond to an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The abusive methods used to punish those accused of breaching quarantine, and the vast number of mass arrests that have been carried out to date against mainly poor people, are further examples of the oppressive approach the government is taking against many who are struggling with basic needs.”