Drilon slams house-to-house search for COVID-19 patients
MANILA, Philippines — “No warrant, no entry!”
Senate Minority Leader Franklin said this on Wednesday as he urged the government to revisit its decision to send police officers and local government personnel to households to search for mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.
“We have reached a crossroads in our fight against the [COVID-19] pandemic that our very government is set to flagrantly violate the very rights that we, the people, have always held to be sacred,” he said in a statement.
Drilon blamed the government’s failure to “prudently and expeditiously” respond to the pandemic for its decision to conduct a house-to-house search, which he said was devised with a “total lack of imagination.”
“For the past few months, our government officials have failed over and over again to flatten the curve. We have extended and legislated all the necessary measures, as they have requested from the Senate to battle this crisis and yet, repeatedly, our officials have miserably failed, through incompetence, negligence, and abject refusal to do mass testing and extensive contact tracing that have immeasurably resulted in the dramatic rise of [COVID-19] cases,” he said.
“If this government had only acted prudently and expeditiously, we would not have reached this point where our state security forces are being commanded to desecrate our inviolable constitutional right to be secure in their persons, houses…against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose,” he added.
The senator further underscored the need for creative solutions and not “fascist actions to demand submission.”
“We need health professionals to contact trace those affected, not the police to sow fear and panic,” he said.
“We need [the] government to draw out the people’s cooperation and it can only be done when our people see that [the] government has a clear focused strategy to contain this virus. Sadly, that remains to be seen,” Drilon added.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said that the government will be visiting households to search for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms so that they can be transferred to monitoring facilities to avoid the further spread of the virus.
This is in line with the government’s “Oplan Kalinga” program, which seeks to transfer COVID-19 patients whose homes are ill-equipped for home quarantine to temporary isolation facilities.
Año noted that individuals who contract the respiratory disease will no longer be allowed to quarantine themselves at home if their households do not have the necessary isolation facilities.
However, Malacañang clarified that there will be no “house-to-house” search for coronavirus patients.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said COVID-19 patients who will be fetched from their houses must be either reported by their own families, members of the community, or the local government units themselves.
To date, Philippine health officials have so far confirmed 57,545 COVID-19 cases in the country, including 1,603 deaths and 20,459 recoveries.
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