Duterte eyes tapping military reservists in COVID-19 fight

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 3) —Reservists of the Armed Forces of the Philippines may now have to render active service to help the government respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

In his address to the nation on Sunday evening, President Rodrigo Duterte urged Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to call for the mobilization of reservists in the middle of the crisis, alongside doctors and nurses.

He even noted that his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, will likely be the first to heed his call. Duterte-Carpio's appointment as army colonel was confirmed just this March.

"You know my daughter, Inday Sara, kapag ako ang nag-mobilize, mauuna iyan. I will specifically point out to her as one of those who will answer," Duterte said.

[Translation: You know my daughter, Inday Sara, once I call for them to mobilize, she will be the first to heed my call. I will specifically point to her as one of those who will answer.]

The President's pronouncement came amid calls by the medical community for the return of Mega Manila under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), as the country faces surging COVID-19 cases and an overwhelmed healthcare system.

Heeding to their plea, Duterte noted that he "fully understands" why health workers needed to ask for a time out, and asked them for more patience.

"They have been in the front lines for months and are exhausted."

Duterte then warned health workers against hinting about staging a "revolution," and assured that once requests are properly channeled, enough government personnel will be provided to assist them.

"We will help you with government personnel..I can ask for soldiers to work 28 hours a day," he said. "We are not actually inutile. Next time, as a matter of courtesy...'wag ninyo ako pariringgan ng rebolusyon (don't hint about staging a revolution)."

Lorenzana said during the meeting that they were also considering to activate medical reservists for two years to serve the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

"We propose to beef up our Health Services Command to allow us to enlist at least 10,000 people composed of doctors, nurses, medical technologists, medical aide. This will become our medical reservists for any eventuality."

Duterte also called on the police force, especially the female officers, to be ready for deployment.

"Iyong mga pulis na babae, ibaba ninyo lahat (The female cops, all of them will have to be deployed), we will train them for just one or two days."

Some celebrities and politicians previously joined the country's army reserve forces. Among them were Dingdong Dantes, who holds the rank of master sergeant; Matteo Guidicelli, who was promoted to army second lieutenant; and Gerald Anderson, who was conferred the rank of private.

Actress and Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos carries the rank of lieutenant colonel of the Philippine Air Force reserve, while Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab holds the rank of colonel. Actor and Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez has the rank of chief petty officer for the Navy, while his wife, Leyte Rep. Lucy Gomez is a master sergeant with the Marine reserves.