Int’l group: Pandemic needs health-based response, not police searches
MANILA, Philippines — The country’s battle with the COVID-19 pandemic should necessitate a health-based response and not one that centers on police officers, an international rights advocacy group said on Wednesday.
The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) said that the government should not push for plans for the Philippine National Police (PNP) to conduct house-to-house screening to check for possible coronavirus patients.
Instead, what President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration should do is to conduct mass testing and ensure that quarantine patients are safe.
“The disastrous spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines calls for a massive public health response, not a house-to-house search by police,” ICHRP’s Peter Murphy said in a statement.
“Free mass testing combined with safe quarantine facilities, and free hospital treatment, combined with real income support is the right way to protect life in the pandemic,” he added.
On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that law enforcement agencies would be going house-to-house to pick-up COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms as they would no longer be allowed to quarantine themselves at home, especially if they do not have the adequate space needed.
But earlier, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that the police would only do pick-ups for reported cases who do not have a proper home quarantine facility.
Various lawmakers and other rights groups including the Commission on Human Rights have raised concerns about the move, which they believe may invade the privacy of people and intrude on their rights to be secured inside their homes.
Others, on the other hand, were worried that the house to house inspections be similar to Oplan Tokhang — especially as some controversial cases like that of slain teenager Kian delos Santos happened near his house.
The country is facing a problem in terms of rising COVID-19 cases, which ranks second in the Southeast Asian region in terms of the total number of confirmed patients, and first in terms of the number of active cases.
Currently, the country has 58,850 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 1,614 have died while 20,976 have recovered.
However, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said that the country is already seeing a downward trend in the infection curve since April after the country supposedly was able to slow down the case doubling time and mortality rates. [ac]
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