DND, AFP ready to help if lockdown needed amid Covid-19

By Priam Nepomuceno

March 12, 2020, 9:56 am

MANILA – While there is no necessity yet to close Metro Manila due to the effects of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the military is more than ready to help the police in maintaining a lockdown if needed.

"If needed and called, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) is ready," he said in a message to reporters late Wednesday.

Lorenzana said the police will manage the lockdown while the AFP will assist lawmen if needed.

Meanwhile, AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Felimon Santos said units under Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (NCR) will be deployed to support the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"If in case lockdown will be implemented all OPCON (operational control), OPCOM (operational command) and Reservist units under JTF NCR will be deployed in support to PNP," he said in a message to reporters.

Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) appealed to the media to use the term 'lockdown' properly in reporting stories on Covid-19.

DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya explained that when one uses the word lockdown, it means that people are confined in one area or place and they are not allowed to leave by authorities.

“That’s why the word lockdown is usually used with relation to prisoners. So when China declared a lockdown in Wuhan, their citizens are not allowed to leave those cities and the highways were closed. That’s a lockdown,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

He added that a lockdown is an extreme measure that may be adopted once Code Red Sub-level 2 is declared which means that there is already a community transmission of the virus.

"But since we don’t have those conditions yet, there is no compelling reason to place any place under lockdown,” he said.

Malaya said the closure of a building or compound for disinfection or other purposes does not mean that it is put on lockdown.

“That only means that the building, compound or place is closed and therefore we should accurately described it as such. It’s just closed,” he said.

He said that the media has the responsibility to use the proper terms because it needs to relay the facts and not add to the “infodemic” that’s currently gripping the world.

“People watch the news of lockdowns in China and Italy so they know what it means. So when we use the word lockdown improperly in the local setting, it causes panic and fear,” he said.

He said that the constant use of the word lockdown has forced people to do panic buying and other unnecessary acts brought about by fear of the virus.

The Covid-19 outbreak which originated in Wuhan, China, resulted in the death of over 4,200 people and an infection of over 119,000 in more than 100 countries.

The Philippines is now under a state of public health emergency after the health department reported the first known local transmission of coronavirus and the rise in confirmed cases in the country.

On Wednesday, the Department of Health confirmed that a 67-year-old Filipino woman is the second Covid-19 death in the country while the number of confirmed cases climbed to 49. (with reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)