MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) chief Delfin Lorenzana has denied rumors circulating on social media that the government will declare martial law or a total lockdown to address the rapidly growing new COVID-19 cases.
In a statement, Lorenzana said there is no compelling reason for President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law.
“Not true. Fake news. Definitely out of the picture. There is no compelling reason to declare martial law,” he said.
Rumors that Duterte will impose a total lockdown, barring everyone from going out of their homes to address the coronavirus surge have circulated on social media at the start of the week.
This week, the Philippines saw a rapid increase in the number of new infections, with 17,220 additional cases recorded on Thursday.
The sharp increase in the country’s COVID cases is believed to be caused by the local transmission of Omicron and Delta variants.
But Lorenzana pointed out that the latest tally is lower than the over 26,000 recorded in 2021.
He added that while highly transmissible, the Omicron variant is seen to be less aggressive than the Delta variant.
“The highest we had was 26,000+ last year. Today we have 17,220. This variant while more transmissible is less virulent than delta. Less people get seriously sick,” he said.
Due to rising cases, Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and 14 other areas in the country have been placed under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.
President Rodrigo Duterte have also directed local officials to restrict the movement of unvaccinated persons in a bid to protect them from contracting the virus.
Lorenzana, who also chairs the National Task Force against COVID-19, said the Inter-Agency Task Force is still evaluating on the possibility of implementing stricter measures to combat the COVID-19 surge. (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)