Stricter enforcement of enhanced community quarantine measures may take place next week after President Rodrigo Duterte spoke of the possibility of deploying Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) personnel should more people refuse to heed calls to stay home and observe social distancing.

Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, said the commanding general of the Philippine Air Force, Lt. General Allen T. Paredes, had confirmed the issuance of an internal memorandum containing advanced information to uniformed personnel.

“To date, there is no order from President Duterte to deploy AFP personnel. But it is incumbent and customary on the part of the leadership of the Philippine Air Force, and the AFP under General Filemon Santos Jr. for that matter, to exercise its initiative of alerting and preparing our personnel including rules of engagement,” he said in a statement released to the media.

Arevalo said the AFP would prepare for deployment with the Philippine National Police (PNP) “in case the people will continue to defy the protocols and disobey the rules.”

Even before the president’s statement, the mayors of Quezon City, Pasay, Parañaque, Mandaluyong and Pateros had sought the assistance of the AFP, “which shows the magnitude of the problem.”

Arevalo downplayed concerns over the military’s involvement in quarantine enforcement, saying that what was more alarming was the growing number of people who blatantly violate the law and disobey rules and health protocols.

“Law abiding citizens and those who follow the rules should not worry. There is no reason to be alarmed,” General Arevalo concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)