BI, CAB blamed for failure to contact all aboard plane with nCoV-infected persons
Updated @ 10:21 p.m., Feb. 4, 2020
MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. pointed a finger at the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for failing to contact all the passengers who were in the same aircraft as the two patients who tested positive for 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV).
“I won’t throw blame all over the place except the CAB and the Bureau of Immigration,” Locsin told the Senate inquiry on the government’s response to the 2019-nCoV on Tuesday.
“These two characters here should do their jobs. When it’s time to throw people under the bus, the bus is there,” he added.
Locsin said this as senators questioned the Health Francisco Duque as to why only a few of the passengers who were aboard the plane with two Chinese nationals positive for the nCoV had been contacted.
Duque explained the airlines allegedly have not been disclosing the contact details of the passengers.
Locsin stressed every passenger are required to give the exact address of where they are staying in any foreign land and the forms of which are under the custody of the BI.
“What I know is that — not just as a secretary of foreign affairs, but as any traveler — is that you cannot even get out of the plane unless you give the details that says, ‘Where are you living? What is your address?’” Locsin pointed out.
“Nobody can enter this country without filling out that form. That form is in the custody of the Bureau of Immigration and it should have been accessible to you guys,” he added.
Duque, meanwhile, assured the airlines have been informing its passengers who were on the same flight with the two Chinese nationals to take the necessary precautions against the virus.
Sought for comment over the phone, CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla described Locsin’s remarks as a “spur of the moment reaction” and said he did not “fault the good secretary for making such a comment.”
Arcilla added, however, that Locsin’s blaming the CAB for failing to trace the passengers aboard the same flight with the nCoV-positive Chinese nationals was “unfounded.”
“Firstly, access to passenger-contact details held by an airline is necessary to carry out the function of the Bureau of Quarantine under the Quarantine Act of 2014, and therefore may be demanded by the Bureau of Quarantine, by way of exception to the protection provided under the Data Privacy Act of 2012,” Arcilla told INQUIRER.net.
“The problem about tracking the whereabouts of the subject passengers did not surface during the two meetings of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, chaired by the DOH and of which the DFA is a member and actual Vice Chair, created under Executive Order 168 and now spearheads the government’s drive against the nCoV,” he added.
Arcilla also called on all concerned sectors to “go beyond finger-pointing and to close ranks against the dreaded contagion.”
The DOH has so far reported more than 100 suspected cases of the novel coronavirus.
READ: DOH: Suspected 2019-nCoV cases in PH rise to more than 100
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