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Hontiveros on cops' house-to-house search for COVID-19 cases: 'Parang tokhang'

The planned house-to-house search for COVID-19 cases in the country to be conducted by cops, along with local government and health officials, has been likened by Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday to the controversial "tokhang," a strategy used in the administration's war on drugs.

"Parang tokhang pero pang-COVID. This may actually discourage more people from reporting their status. We need to improve home- and community-based healthcare," Hontiveros said in a statement.

"Imbes na pulis, mas kinakailangan ang mga doktor at health workers sa barangay at mga kabahayan. We need more and better barangay-based healthcare, not this," she added.

Her remarks came after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday said cops will be part of the house-to-house search for asymptomatic and mild cases of COVID-19 who need to be transferred to isolation facilities.

Home quarantine is only advised for patients who have their own room, own bathroom, and are not living with people vulnerable to the disease.

Año, later on, clarified on Wednesday that local health officials, not police, would lead the search.

"Ang ating kapulisan naman ay mag-a-assist lang sa kanila para sigurado na ma-implement ang lockdown at sigurado din na maayos naman 'yung paglilipat ng ating mga positive patients," he said.

'May batas'

Año underscored that the step is in line with Section IV (f) of Republic Act 11332 or the "Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act."

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday agreed that the measure was legal and supported the move to transfer mild and asymptomatic cases to quarantine facilities.

"In terms of law may batas tayo, communicable law in which kapag ganyang positive ka, puwede kang dalhin kung ano ang protocol," he said in an interview with Super Radyo dzBB reporter Nimfa Ravelo.

"I don’t think kulang tayo sa batas. Ang importante lang clear sa tao ang protocol," he added.

However, Gatchalian suggested a change in policy so that police and local government employees will no longer have to exhaust limited resources and risk their own health going house-to-house to fetch COVID-19 cases.

"The best way to do it is kung nag-test at positive, dalhin na kaagad, huwag nang pauuwiin," he said.

He added that home quarantine should not be allowed even for mild and asymptomatic cases.

"Dapat they should not allow home quarantine and mandate isolation centers. Mandatory talaga, mandatory talaga. Hindi tayo puwedeng maging malambot sa isolation. Kung hindi, magkakahawahan," Gatchalian said.

As of July 14, the Philippines recorded 57,545 COVID-19 cases with 20,459 recoveries and 1,603 deaths. —Dona Magsino/KG, GMA News