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Man Shot Dead in the Philippines After Disobeying Coronavirus Restrictions

The 63-year-old allegedly attacked the police while drunk. The shooting happened just days after President Duterte instructed authorities to "shoot dead" any troublemakers.
April 6, 2020, 2:26am
Philippine police
For illustrative purposes only. Philippine police man a checkpoint on the border between Quezon city and Manila districts on March 18, 2020, as the government imposed measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Photo by Ted Aljibe / AFP

This article originally appeared on VICE Asia.

CORRECTION: This article was previously published under a different headline. It has since been edited to better reflect the apparent nuances of the situation.

A man in the Philippines was shot dead by police after refusing to follow restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. The 63-year-old is believed to have been drunk when he confronted village officials and police manning a security checkpoint at the town of Nasipit, in the country’s south, on Thursday. He was cautioned for not wearing a face mask, according to a police report, and responded by threatening authorities with a scythe.

"The suspect was cautioned by a village health worker… for not wearing a face mask," the report said. "But the suspect got angry, uttering provoking words and eventually attacked the personnel using a scythe."

It’s understood a police officer was trying to calm the man down before drawing their firearm and shooting him dead. The incident is the first reported case of police shooting a civilian for flouting coronavirus restrictions, and comes just days after President Rodrigo Duterte warned that anyone caught disobeying government instruction and “creating trouble” should be gunned down.

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"Follow the government at this time because it is critical that we have order," Duterte said in a late-night national address on Wednesday. "My orders to the police and the military, if anyone creates trouble, and their lives are in danger: shoot them dead."

The president doubled down on this message during another late-night address on Friday, declaring that he would “finish” anybody caught disobeying the rules in order to protect other people from contracting the novel coronavirus.

"Without these restrictions, this will not end," he said. "So if you don't want to follow, then I will finish you to protect the lives of the innocent who don't want to die."

Government officials have themselves been caught flouting the advice of medical professionals and contributing to the spread of COVID-19, though. In late March, an infected Philippine senator broke quarantine protocol when he stepped inside a busy private hospital in the heart of Manila to accompany his pregnant wife—endangering the lives of doctors and patients.

A handful of lawmakers and cabinet officials, meanwhile, received “VIP” access to virus testing kits amid a nationwide shortage of resources, despite not showing any symptoms of the disease. Such special treatment stands in stark contrast to the many urban poor who have already been targeted and persecuted by Duterte’s militant stance on alleged troublemakers. A homeless woman who resisted police and “persons under monitoring” who were caught outdoors are among those who have been arrested for allegedly violating curfew, while in another village people were locked in dog cages for the same reason.

At the time of writing, the Philippines has recorded 3,246 confirmed cases of COVID-19—3,030 of which are active—and at least 152 people have died from the disease. Sixty-four have recovered.

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