“I will not hesitate. My orders are to the police and military, as well as village officials, if there is any trouble, or occasions where there’s violence and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English in the televised address. “Do not intimidate the government. Do not challenge the government. You will lose.”

This sort of order is not out of character for the controversial leader, who is notoriously accused of presiding over extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers at the hands of police for years. Nevertheless, it marks a chilling escalation in the global fight against COVID-19.