Shoot them Dead

Posted April 2, 2020 from Philippines


“Shoot them Dead! “

This was the order of President Rodrigo Duterte in his late last night (April 2, 2020) pronouncement on air after more than 20 people gathered demanding for food aid in one of the barangays of Quezon City, the capital city of the Philippines.

They were violently dispersed and arrested by the policemen believing they were protesting against the local government instigated by leftist organization.  At the moment, 21 persons were detained due to the violation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine.

Testimonies from women who were present during the gathering said, they were queuing for food distribution since they were not given any food aid since the first day of the lockdown.  They heard that the local government will distribute food packs thus, they ran and crowded the local government office demanding food aids. They were not member of any organization.

Reactions from the Filipino communities from the different corners of the world flooded social media condemning the pronouncement of the president and calling for his ouster.

My heart breaks and my eyes are in tears of sadness, helplessness and anger.

People are hungry yet they are being punished and blamed of not obeying orders and violating quarantine protocols. Assistance from the government are not sufficient enough to compensate the daily income of families due to lockdown.  

It’s a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea for the poor who have no income and can’t afford to stock foods for the week.  For them, it’s a choice of going out from their houses to look for food or any means than die of hunger. They believed they have still chance not to be infected by COVID-19 when they go out from their houses.   

Health workers are getting infected by COVID 19 and dying alone without the benefit of seeing their love ones.   There are already ten doctors killed by the virus.  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s) are lacking for doctors, nurses and other medical workers.  Masks and alcohol are not available in the market.  Testing for the infections were delayed and very limited.  Hospitals were already full and already denying patients with symptoms of COVID-19.

Government reported that there are already 2, 311 cases and 96 deaths.     

I don’t know if the people are in panic or the government is in panic.  Local and national governments don’t have the response capacities on the massive horrendous impact among the people including themselves. In fact, earlier several government officials have their COVID-19 testing including their household several times when testing kits are not available to the public.   

Staying home is very difficult for the poor population especially when government support systems for daily survival is absent or not enough.  I don’t think they are in panic; they are desperate to find a living for their families.

Yes, I’m scared how long will this last. How long will our patience end?  In fact, people as well as the government is already impatience.  Government can’t anymore tolerate criticisms and collective actions on their inadequacies. They already resort to intimidation and harassment as means for social control.

People are already impatience due to slow delivery of food aid and compelled to go out of their way not following quarantine protocols of staying at home and social distancing. It’s already two weeks of lockdown, two weeks of helplessness and two weeks of hunger.  It’s a call for survival.

The poor are confronted by getting infected of the virus, hunger and getting penalized.  Yet, they dared to go out from their houses despite the danger of being infected.  Now, they are in danger of being killed by government forces ordered by the president.

Will the poor people still go out from their houses? I don’t know …  maybe yes, maybe no …

Only time can till.

But I strongly believe that we can overcome the crisis even when government are not competent enough to take care of its people.  People helped one another, there are private sectors and women are providing foods and PPE's to medical front liners and communities. There are brave women and men who compels the government for speedy response through social media.   There are people in government that are compassionate enough to provide resources. There are the science and technology scientists who are dedicated and determined to look for alternatives in combating COVID-19.  

Above all, there is the technology of social media that connect people closer to one another despite physical distancing and isolation. The technology that keep people alive in this threatening time of being alive.  This keep me and the whole population alive in our home quarantine for almost two weeks now and beyond###     



This story was submitted in response to Dispatches from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Comments 10

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Jill Langhus
Apr 03
Apr 03

Hello there,

How are you and your family doing? Welcome back, by the way! Wow! This is truly sad. I don't even know what to say. What happened to compassion and humanity? I hope they rethink their ways. I'm glad that you're staying optimistic, though.

You may want to consider submitting this for the current COVID-19 story call:

I hope you and your family are safe and well.


Dawn Arteaga
Apr 03
Apr 03

Malayapinas - this is heartbreaking. Thank you for lifting this story up for the world to see and be aware of. I am grateful for your hopeful conclusion. I, too, believe that we can find a way to see the light through this darkness and look for opportunities to lift each other up and connect in new ways.

Apr 03
Apr 03

I’m sorry but I have to disagree with this article. “Shoot to kills” was use out of context. Yes, a certain situation happened and that is why the president needs to address the nation. I have listened and read the transcript of the speech multiple times and he did not address that to the “poor” citizens. As what I understand, the statement was addressed to the LEFTIST, a certain group who brings trouble or sabotaging the government’s work. It was a warning call to them (leftist). The president also mentioned that the help is on the way and asked the people to be patient.

It is frustrating that some people used this statement and share to a platform that reaches globally, just to paint negative to the current administration who has been doing their best to fight this pandemic. Moreover, as a writer, it is our responsibility to check the facts of the information and have a correct interpretation to avoid misunderstandings.

COVID-19 is everyone’s fight, not just in the Philippines but worldwide, let’s set aside politics for now and help whatever we can. Let’s do our part, be a good citizen and stop spreading negativity, the pandemic is too much of it already.


Beth Lacey
Apr 03
Apr 03

I am glad that you are staying connected in social media and on World Pulse. Your story is tragic and, unfortunately, it is being repeated all over the world. Stay strong

Unfortunately, what is being circulated worldwide is half truth. It was a staged rally, dear sister.

Our government is doing its best to protect and provide for the poor, the vulnerable, the homeless, and those who lost their jobs (including Filipinos abroad).

No excuse for the President’s controversial speech, but it wasn’t address to the poor, he directed it as a
warning to rebel groups who look for opportunities to promote chaos or riots.

Not siding with anyone, but it’s important to know the truth.

Beth Lacey
Apr 07
Apr 07

I appreciate you letting me know this, Karen

Hello, Kabayan,

Welcome back to World Pulse! How are you coping with the coronavirus crisis? I hope you and your family are safe.

As a Fellow Pinay, I would like to share some facts. The President’s speech did cause an uproar to the opposition, and it divided our nation more than ever. But if we review the speech, those controversial words were not directed to the poor and hungry people, dear, as you’ve written here.

The context of those words,”shoot them dead” is a warning to rebel groups who will not head his warning to stop causing chaos or to start a riot especially during this crisis. I’ve reviewed his speech, too. He said not to test his warnings or else he will not hesitate that his soldiers will shoot only if they started a riot.

In this season of crisis, especially when we are told to stay at home, it is not safe to gather and stage a rally, dear sister.

I’ve listened to interviews, and a woman wasn’t careful when she said they did receive their share of supply, but she claim it wasn’t enough. The President did say he will redirect the distribution via DSWD instead thru local government units to avoid political bias. He asked the Filipino people to please be patient.

As for what took place in the rally, this is the official statement of the Quezon City LGU:

There were people who told these group that food will be distributed in a certain area. It was a staged rally to cause chaos. :(

No one wants to be hungry during this lockdown period, dear sister. Government is trying its best so the poor, the homeless, the vulnerable, the indigents are being prioritized.

The Filipino Bayanihan Spirit is alive more than ever during this crisis, and that is a real blessing as we are mandated to heal as one.

In fact, the Philippines has “The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, officially designated as Republic Act No. 11469, is a law of the Philippines that was enacted in March 2020 granting the President additional authority to combat the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in the Philippines.”

I have written a post here on the initiatives our government spearheaded. Kindly read this:

My husband who works in an INGO is actively monitoring their partner communities, yes, dear sister, they are receiving food and support from local government.

I understand that the news can cause panic to us, sometimes media use headlines to pick our interests. But it is also our responsibility to validate and research information from many sources.

Do you know that our senators are donating a portion of their monthly salary for this COVID-19 fight? Do you know that our President is donating one month of his salary to do the same?

Dear sister, no country is prepared to face this virus. First world countries with quality medical services, equipment, and staff are encountering unprecedented challenges (US, Italy, Spain, Germany, UK, China, etc.)

Our country hasn’t reached the peak yet. That is why there is a call to Heal As One, dear sister. Let us unite and support each other.

Together, we a stronger. But if we are divided, we will fall. Isn’t it something to rejoice that our president acknowledged our vice president’s initiative to help? Private companies donating millions? Religious groups offering their public spaces?

Sa totoo lang, sis, mas nakakalamang tayo bilang 3rd world country. We were the first to implement a lockdown. May mga palpak syempre pero tulong-tulong tayo nito, sis.

Kaya natin ito dahil tayo ay mga Pilipino. :) Nalampasan na natin ang napakaraming kalamidad. Sa totoo lang, naihanda nga tayo dahil doon. Natuto tayo mag-emergency response. :)

Mahal tayo ng Dios. Palpak man ang gobyerno, pero ang Dios natin, sis, di tayo pababayaan. :)

Stay safe and stay healthy. Hugs.

Rahmana Karuna
Apr 06
Apr 06

Dearest Malayapina thank you for writing. this is a very global hard time right now. with nasty and/or ignorant/panicky people out there. Our low population county has a woman's sewing group that are sewing masks for locals. Joanne Fabric partnerred up with them. The were using a local business for people to stop by certain hours to pick up just enough for the household, but by friday they were being mobbed and people were panicking and agressive and demand more masks. so they shut that site down, and now i see they have implemented comments on the facebook page that people comment what their needs are and others reply that they can fill that need.
Life is not normal now.

Anita Shrestha
Apr 07
Apr 07

Thankk you for sharing

Hina Jillani
Apr 17
Apr 17

Heartbraking story