Philippine president threatens to shoot protesters after frantic scenes seen at COVID-19 lockdown rally

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (April 2) threatened to order troops to shoot protesters after a rally was organised in response to COVID-19 restrictions in Manila. Duterte was speaking after 21 people were arrested on Wednesday (April 1) for staging a rally without permit in Quezon City. In the video, soldiers and police were seen taking people in handcuffs and running after those who were fleeing from the scene The group demonstrated and occupied a portion of the Epifanio delos Santos Avenue in Quezon City, which is a few meters away from the protester's neighbourhood in Sitio San Roque. One of the residents who took part in a rally said they were going hungry because of the country's Covid-19 lockdown. Jocy Lopez, 47, who led the group of residents, said they were forced to stage the protest because they did not have any food due to the restrictions imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic. "We are here to call for help because of hunger. We have not been given food, rice, groceries or cash. We have no work. Who do we turn to," she said before being arrested. Another resident complained that with the arrest of her husband and other male residents, many families would be struggling even further to find food. President Duterte's tough measures to combat Covid-19 include community lockdowns, curfews and travel bans. However, they have hit the country's poor the hardest as many have been prevented from earning any income and are forced to rely on government food handouts. Hardline president Duterte - best known for tough action on drug dealers - blamed ''leftists'' for trying to destabilise the government. He said: ''I’m addressing the Left. Your violations, slamming the distribution [of food], remember you in the Left, you are not the government. And you know that. You are not the government and you cannot be part of what we are planning for the nation. ''You know, we are ready for you. Violence, shooting, killing, I will not hesitate [to order] my soldiers to shoot you. I will not hesitate to order the police to arrest and detain you. Now, if you are detained you will have to look for your own food. I will give the food to good people who are in need, instead of giving it to foolish people like you who start trouble.'' The Quezon City local government said in a statement that their relief efforts are continuous to help out those whose livelihood were affected by the lockdown.