House-to-house search for COVID-19 patients ‘impractical’ — Villanueva
MANILA, Philippines — The house-to-house search for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients who show mild symptoms and who cannot undergo proper home quarantine is “impractical” and may go against constitutional restrictions on warrantless search, Senator Joel Villanueva said on Wednesday.
“I think this plan is impractical and again, as a lot of us would say, may run against the constitutional prohibition on warrantless searches and seizures,” he said in an online press conference.
“When you talk about COVID-19 solution, it should be data-driven. We have been talking about this, we sound like a broken record. It should be data-driven, pro-health, and pro-poor. I am surprised that we have not figured that out by now,” the senator added.
Villanueva also said policemen and other men in uniform should not be involved in the program as their presence in the residences of patients will only add to the public’s anxiety during the pandemic.
Under the government’s “Oplan Kalinga” program, patients showing mild symptoms of the coronavirus disease or are asymptomatic and who do not have their own rooms and bathrooms while in home quarantine, and who have household members who are vulnerable to the illness, will be fetched from their houses and brought to government quarantine facilities.
Under the program, police officers will assist health workers and local government personnel in going to the houses of patients.
However, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said there would be no house-to-house search for COVID-19 patients under this drive. He said the patients to be fetched by authorities are only those reported by their own families, members of the community, or the local government unit.
Villanueva, however, maintained that the program is impractical despite this clarification from Malacañang.
“Sasabihin kong impractical sapagkat, kaya ko binanggit ‘yung impractical initiative, sapagkat hindi ko pa rin nakikita ‘yung random at regular testing na nangyayari. Kung ma-attain natin talaga ito, mas makakapagdecide tayo dahil magkakaroon tayo ng data,” he explained.
(I will say that this is impractical. I said it is an impractical initiative because I still can’t see the random and regular testing being conducted. If we will attain this, we can decide better because we will have the data.)
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