PNP to only assist in fetching COVID-19 patients from homes — Eleazar
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police will only assist local health workers in fetching coronavirus disease patients who are showing mild symptoms, the commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield said on Wednesday.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar made this clarification in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo on Wednesday amid fears that the “Oplan Kalinga” of the government, in which COVID-19 patients exhibiting mild symptoms and unable to undergo proper home quarantine will be fetched from their homes and brought to quarantine facilities, could be prone to abuse and may discourage people from reporting their health status.
“Malinaw ang sinasabi sa pahayag ni SILG (Secretary of Interior and Local Government) Año, tutulong ang ating kapulisan. Tandaan po natin ‘yun, hindi po kami magkukusa na kami-kami ang magkakatok ng mga bahay,” Eleazar explained.
(The statement of SILG Año that we will only assist in the program. Let us remember that we will not initiate house-to-house search.)
Eleazar said the police will only assist members of the local task force against COVID-19 of cities and municipalities and that health workers will be the ones to lead in implementing the initiative.
He also disputed the claim that the “Oplan Kalinga” could be anti-poor, saying that the program aims to help COVID-19 patients showing mild symptoms who don’t have their own room and own bathroom in their homes and have household members who belong to those vulnerable to the illness.
“Sa last resort nito, kung talagang merong magmamatigas, sinasabi nga po na actually may karampatang batas po ‘yan na dapat sundin. Pero hindi naman po tayo magreresulta sa panghuhuli o pagsasampa ng kaso,” he added.
(There are appropriate laws that should be followed on this. But we will not reach the point that we will arrest or file cases.)
Senator Risa Hontiveros earlier likened the initiative to “Oplan Tokhang,” the PNP’s controversial and flagship program in the so-called drug war, where policemen visit the homes of suspected drug users and dealers to ask them to surrender to authorities.
“We need to improve home and community-based healthcare. Imbes na pulis, mas kinakailangan ang mga doktor at health workers sa barangay at mga kabahayan. We need more, better barangay-based healthcare, not this,” said Hontiveros.
(We need to improve home and community-based healthcare. Instead of policemen, we need more doctors and health workers in barangays and households. We need more, better barangay-based healthcare, not this.)
The National Union of People’s Lawyers also criticized the program and said it could be “worrying and disturbing.”
“With a government that has emboldened its own uniformed personnel to violate human rights with impunity, how can we be sure that the police will not abuse this new power to intrude into the privacy of our homes and encroach upon our liberties, targeting those who have been vocal with their grievances and criticisms of the government’s callous neglect of the people’s livelihood, health and lives?” NUPL said.
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