‘House-to-house’ COVID search by police, military part of disinformation drive–DILG chief
CALOOCAN CITY, July 17 (PIA) — Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año on Thursday dismissed as fake news and part of a disinformation campaign by unscrupulous individuals some reports insisting government will do “house-to-house” search for coronavirus positive patients to be led by the police or the military in police-type operations.
Año, however, did not name names but emphasized that local health workers, who have been tasked to lead COVID-19 surveillance teams, will not do “house-to-house” probing, as not all households would need to be visited.
The team headed by the local government unit’s (LGUs) Local Epidemiological Surveillance Units (LESU), he said, would only visit those listed as COVID positive in the community.
“Hindi po natin uubusin ang oras ng ating LESU sa pag-isa-isa ng mga bahay ng mga tao. Ito po ay fake news. Tanging yung mga na-test po na positive na kasama sa kanilang listahan lamang at hindi makakapag-comply sa minimum requirement para payagang makapag-home quarantine ang ating dadalhin sa mga Ligtas Center,” he said.
At the same time, Año said the transfer of patients to COVID Ligtas Centers or isolation centers under the government’s “Oplan Kalinga” program is urgent and necessary not only to closely monitor and treat them, but also for good of the community.
“This move is plainly to ensure that COVID-19 patients will be attended to and that they will not spread the virus to their families and the community,” he said.
“Kapag nasa Ligtas Centers sila, mas mababantayan at maaalagaan sila doon at higit sa lahat, maliit na ang chance na maikalat nila ang virus sa kanilang pamilya,” he added.
The DILG chief said coronavirus patients will be brought to Ligtas Centers as a precautionary measure to curtail transmission and most importantly, to ensure that they are well taken care of as these isolation centers are equipped to handle their medical needs as opposed to practicing home quarantine.
He said COVID-19 patients should not fear being placed under a COVID-19 Ligtas facility as all their needs, including their food will be provided for.
“Ito ang siguradong paraan para mabantayan natin at matalo natin ang virus na ito,” he said.
Home quarantine, on the other hand, he said, was seen to have been a contributory factor in the spread of the coronavirus in the community as some residences do not have dedicated areas to isolate their infected relatives, hence, leading to more cases.
“Ito po ay tungkulin ng inyong pamahalaan sa ating mga mamamayan na naaayon sa batas lalo na ngayong panahon ng krisis at kayo ay lumalaban sa isang pandemia. Makipagtulungan po tayo sa gobyerno dahil ang kapakanan at kalusugan ng buong komunidad na ang nakasalalay,” Año said.
He explained that Republic Act No 11332 provides legal authority for quarantine and isolation purposes and penalizes non-cooperation of persons who have a notifiable disease or are affected by a health event of public concern.
According to Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) president Domingo Egon Cayoso, “enforcing the law is part of the state’s power,” explaining that conducting house-to-house visits to find COVID-19 patients is in accordance with the law granting public health authorities the power to ensure quarantine and isolation.
Cayoso further explained that non-cooperation can be sanctioned by a fine of P20,000 to P50,000 and/or imprisonment of one to six months under RA 11332. He said that patients who tested positive and are medically proven to be carriers and still refuse to be taken to Ligtas Centers are “actually committing a crime”.
“Under the warrantless arrest rule, puwede ho kayong arestuhin, pero hindi kayo dadalhin sa kulungan kasi maiinfect yung mga nandoon. Dadalhin kayo sa quarantine facilities,” Cayoso pointed out.
To recall, a person is allowed to do home quarantine if he has a separate room where the patient can be confined; if the patient has his own comfort room; and if he is not living with people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 such as senior citizen and immune-compromised individuals, among others. (PIA NCR)