Malacañang: No Duterte order yet for martial law-like lockdown

MANILA, Philippines – After the Armed Forces of the Philippines started preparing for a possible "martial law-like lockdown," Malacañang on Monday, April 20, said President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to issue any order of a police and military takeover. 

"The President has not actually exercised this extraordinary power of calling upon the military for this purpose," Roque said in a press briefing. 

Despite this, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque defended Duterte’s authority to do so, saying it was among the President’s extraordinary powers allowed under the Constitution.  

While no order has been issued, Roque said Duterte "will not hesitate" to call on the military to enforce an enhanced community quarantine.  

"If he so decides he will issue the necessary and corresponding executive issuance," he said. 

Under Article VII, Section 18 of the Constitution, "the President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion."

Roque said this calling out power is what Duterte will tap when ordering the military to implement lockdown measures. 

Malacañang’s statement comes after a Philippine Air Force (PAF) internal memo advising troops to "prepare for strict implementation of extensive enhanced community quarantine where the AFP will be the overall in-charge along roads and highways" was leaked. 

Like the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Roque insisted it was only natural for the military to prepare to enforce "extensive enhanced community quarantine" measures.  

Roque likewise insisted that Duterte’s order for the police and military to implement lockdown measures, if issued, is not "not a martial-law type" measure.  

"Puwede niya tawagin ang sandatahan para ipatupad ang ECQ. 'Yan po ang kapangyarihan ng Presidente, 'di po 'yan martial law," he said. (He can call on the military to implement the ECQ [enhanced community quarantine]. That’s part of the President’s powers, it’s not martial law.)

But it was Duterte himself who said a military and police takeover will be "like martial law" if Filipinos were not "disciplined" and continued to break lockdown rules put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus.  

"'Pag ayaw ninyong maniwala, mag-take over ang military at police. I am ordering them now to be ready. Ang police at military ang mag-enforce sa social distancing at curfew. Parang martial law na rin. Mamili kayo,” Duterte said.  

(If you don't want to believe, the military and police will take over. I am ordering them now to be ready. The police and the military will enforce social distancing and curfew. It would be like martial law. You choose.) –

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at