By John Ezekiel J. Hirro

President Rodrigo Duterte told Filipinos not to be worried over quarantine measures as the country was not under martial law, saying the government was only out to protect public health amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Duterte on Thursday announced that Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Calabarzon regions, as well as the provinces of Pangasinan and Albay would shift to the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) on June 1, while the rest of the country would be placed under modified GCQ.

“Huwag kayong matakot, there will be no arrest, detention or anything… If there is any intervention or interdiction done by the law enforcement agency, pati yung military, the role is just to implement the law and assist the civil government,” Duterte said during his Thursday night address.

Restrictive lockdown measures were imposed from March 17 to May 31 to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The 75-day span was only one day shy of the 76-day lockdown implemented in Wuhan, China, the origin of the pandemic.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said during the president’s broadcast that over 184,000 people were apprehended for lockdown violations, of which 54 percent were apprehended, 9 percent were given warnings and 37 percent were fined.

The country also saw a 60-percent decline in the number of “focus crimes” committed during the lockdown.

The crime count went down from 11,004 criminal cases covering the period Jan. 6 to March 16, to 4,479 from March 17 to May 27, according to Año.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said earlier on Thursday that the government had “high confidence” the public would adhere to quarantine protocols even under relaxed quarantine measures.

“Unang-una, napatunayan ng mga Pilipino na kaya nilang sumunod dahil naman by and large ‘no, itong more than 70 days na tayo ay nagkaroon ng enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) at modified ECQ ay pinatunayan natin na disiplinado po ang mga Pilipino,” he said.

The country has so far 15,588 Covid-19 cases, with 921 deaths.