Police in the Philippines shot a man dead after he became angry when told he needed to wear a face-mask in public, Deutsch Welle reports in its English-language edition. This appears to be the first incident of a person being killed in the Asian country for failing to follow coronavirus-prevention guidelines.
It appears that police noticed the 63-year-old man out and about in the southern town of Nasipit in Agusan del Norte province on Saturday (local time). He was reportedly not wearing a mask. That meant that he was at once violating two of the country’s strict quarantine rules — being outside of the home without a good reason and not wearing a protective mask.
“The suspect was cautioned by a village health worker… for not wearing a face mask,” according to a police report.
However, the man, who police say appeared to be inebriated, responded violently.
“The suspect got angry, uttering provoking words and eventually attacked the personnel using a scythe,” the police report reads.
Police, in turn, shot him dead.
The Philippine government, under President Rodrigo Duterte, has effectively authorized police to use deadly force on scofflaws when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
Speaking last week, Duterte made it clear that any flouting of the rules would be met with deadly force.
“My orders to the police and military… if there is trouble and there’s an occasion that they fight back and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead … Instead of causing trouble, I will bury you,” he said.
This type of language is on-brand for Duterte, who has previously appeared to champion the extra-judicial killings of criminals and drug abusers.
Human-rights organization Amnesty International has condemned Duterte’s strong-armed policies.
“Deadly, unchecked force should never be used in an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” the agency said.
The Philippine police crackdown on scofflaws does not appear to be limited to just deadly force.
In the slums of Manila this week, several residents staged a protest, demanding food and basic emergency supplies, after many residents have been left without work due to the month-long lockdown of the capital city. Police arrested 20 protesters who refused to go back to their homes.
Clashes between police and the general public over coronavirus restrictions have not been limited to the Philippines. Last week as The Washington Post reports, violent clashes with police broke out in India, Pakistan, and Israel as worshipers tried to visit religious sights, despite orders that such places remain closed.