Duterte’s ‘kill’ order during COVID-19 crisis fuels worldwide ‘oust’ trend

April 2, 2020 - 3:38 PM
Rodrigo Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech. (The STAR/Joven Cagande)

Online calls to oust President Rodrigo Duterte using the hashtag #OustDuterteNow made it to the worldwide trends of Twitter after he ordered killing of violators of COVID-19 quarantine in a surprise national address on Wednesday evening.

“Ang pera, dadating. Ang pagkain dadating, huwag lang kayong magulo para smooth — sa Bisaya pa, hapsay. Ayaw og hadloka ang gobyerno. Do not intimidate government. Do not challenge government. Matatalo kayo, sigurado,” he said on Wednesday evening. 

“My orders are sa pulis pati military, pati mga barangay na pagka ginulo at nagkaroon ng okasyon na lumaban at ang buhay ninyo ay nalagay sa alanganin, shoot them dead,” the president said in the same speech.

“Naintindihan ninyo? Patay. Eh kaysa mag-gulo kayo diyan, eh ‘di ilibing ko na kayo. Ah ‘yung libing, akin ‘yan. Huwag ninyo subukan ang gobyerno kasi itong gobyerno na ito hindi inutil,” he added.

Duterte mentioned that the message was addressed to “leftists” whom he alleged to have disrespected and sabotaged the distribution of goods through conduct of street protests.

“Huwag ninyo…Huwag ninyong subukan ang Pilipino. Do not try to test it. Alam mo we are ready for you. Gulo o barilan o patayan, I will not hesitate my soldiers to shoot you. I will not hesitate to order the police to arrest and detain you,” he added.

The president appeared to be referring to the group of individuals who were reportedly demanding food and financial aid in Quezon City early Wednesday.

According to initial police reports, the group from an urban poor community at Barangay Pag-asa flocked to the side of EDSA.

Philstar.com reported that the “police dispersal of the protest—prohibited under enhanced community quarantine guidelines—resulted in the arrests of 14 men and 6 women.”

Duterte earlier banned mass gatherings and warned that those who would cause chaos during the home quarantine period would be arrested.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, however, reminded the public that law enforcers cannot arrest people who violate travel restrictions and curfew regulations.

But Department of Justice spokesperson Markk Perete later on issued a warning that individuals can get arrested by merely going out to the streets.

Duterte, known to pepper his speeches with curses and vulgar words, has been making this “shoot to kill” remark against illegal drug users and criminals in national addresses even before he won the presidential elections in 2016.

This order has been criticized by opposition local officials as well as international human rights advocates, including US senators who earlier asked Duterte to end human rights violations in the country. 

Philippine National Police chief Gen. Archie Gamboa defended the president’s kill order the following day.

“Of course not. Probably the President just overemphasized on implementing the law in this time of crisis,” Gamboa said in an interview over ANC.

Aside from his kill order, Duterte vowed to defend healthworkers who are experiencing discrimination.

He threatened individuals who would discriminate and hurt COVID-19 frontliners that police would go after them. He also told them to get a taste of their own misconduct against healthworkers.

According to a Philippine New Agency report, a male nurse was reportedly splashed with chlorine while walking along Tres De Abril Street in Cebu City last March 27.

A frontliner in a hospital in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat was similarly mobbed by a group of five who splattered bleach all over his face.


Duterte’s threat-laden speech was then criticized by online users who earlier demanded for the national government’s concrete plans on the COVID-19 outbreak.

The president is known to have a strong following online but criticisms against him reached the global online platform on Wednesday.

Among the hashtags that reached the worldwide trending list of Twitter is the #OustDuterteNow which was used by Filipinos who aired their condemnation against Duterte’s threats during a health crisis.

On Thursday morning, this hashtag remained on the top spot of both Twitter’s worldwide and Philippines trending list with more than 327,000 tweets, followed by #peoplepower at the fifth spot.

Social media observations

Amid the wave of negative sentiments online, some Filpinos also raised concerns that the administration might have ulterior motives for causing public uproar.

Possible distraction from the missing funds

A hefty P275 billion budget was allocated for the novel coronavirus efforts as part of the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act or Republic Act 11469, which granted Duterte special powers to allocate it.

The new law also placed the country under a state of emergency effective for three months unless extended.

Filipinos have been expecting that the national government will provide a concrete breakdown of these public funds but it has remain undisclosed as of writing.

During the fifth presidential late night address of Duterte, he only cited P200 billion granted to him by the Congress to aid the informal sector or daily wage earners who were severely affected by the large-scale quarantine.

He also assured that quick response measures for the farmers and fisher folk, as well as food packs and non-essential food items, have also been employed.

One Twitter user reminded the public of the lack of transparency in budget amid the online ouster calls, saying: “Keep your eyes on the unaccounted P275 billion pesos.”

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told reporters on Thursday that the cash assistance worth P5,000 to P8,000 will be distributed to 18 million beneficiaries nationwide.

Nograles said this is the start of the government’s massive P200-billion social amelioration program.

Local government units, however, have to submit a list of these beneficiaries first on or before April 3. The LGUs will be in-charge of distributing the money.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas criticized this approach, saying that it’s impossible to come up with a list comprising informal settlers, drivers, and other minimum wage earners that fast.

Excuse to declare martial law

When he first placed Metro Manila under community quarantine last March 12, Duterte specifically clarified that the directive is “not martial law.”

However, the fear lingered after Duterte warned on possible public arrests and detentions when he placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine last March 16.

The umbrella measure was imposed to help stop the spread of COVID-19 following a surge of confirmed cases earlier this March.

Some Filipinos observed that the government might make the recent online unrest as the reason for implementing a nationwide martial law.

“Calling for a violent revolution is exactly what Duterte wants. He needs a reason to implement Martial Law. Don’t play into his hand,” one Twitter user said.

Other trending key words

The names of government officials “Vico” and “Koko Pimentel” also trended on Twitter worldwide with over 434,000 and 108,000 tweets, respectively.

These contained conversations on the National Bureau of Investigation’s request for Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto’s response over alleged violation of the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act (RA 11469).

The agency cited that this was when Sotto partially lifted the mass transport ban for tricycle operators to help health workers and others exempted from the quarantine to move around Pasig city.

READ: Vico Sotto temporarily allows tricycles in Pasig for people reporting to work amid quarantin

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Vico’s uncle, and other senators defended the local chief executive, noting that the Bayanihan Act was not yet drafted that time and the law cannot be retroactive.

Some prominent names from the entertainment and music industry also expressed their support for Sotto.

TWEET SCOPE: Local celebrities express dismay to the situation where NBI summoned Pasig Mayor for allegedly violating…

Posted by FTTM on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

NBI later summoned Sen. Koko Pimentel for his breach of home quarantine rules when his pregnant wife to the hospital. The summon order on Pimentel only came after several Filipinos called for it online.