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PNP house-to-house visit to find patients is prone to abuse - lawyers' group

The program in which Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel are to go house-to-house to find persons with mild COVID-19 symptoms or who are asymptomatic is prone to abuse, according to the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL).

"Saying home quarantine has been prone to abuse, the PNP will escort those who will not be able to comply with the three requirements of home quarantine—own room, own bathroom, and not living with elderly or pregnant persons—to isolation facilities," the group said in a statement.

"This move reveals the Duterte government’s continuing reliance on police and militaristic approaches to solve a public health emergency," they added.

The NUPL was referring to Oplan Kalinga, in which COVID-19 patients from their houses to government isolation facilities.

Vince Dizon, chief testing czar in the fight against COVID-19, earlier enumerated the requirements of home quarantine.

“Kung ikaw ay may sariling kuwarto, may sariling banyo, at walang kasamang may edad o may sakit o buntis puwedeng mag-home quarantine,” he said.

Dizon also said that if the patient fails to meet even one of the requirements, he or she is not qualified for home quarantine and thus will be escorted to government-run quarantine facilities.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, in a press briefing held on Tuesday, said policemen and local government personnel will be going house to house to search for COVID-19 cases who should not be on home quarantine.

"Ayaw na po natin mag-home quarantine ang mga positive natin kung wala naman po talagang kapasidad 'yung kanilang bahay," Año said

The NUPL members are "calling on the government to apply the find, test, treat and isolate strategy."

But they added that "arming law enforcers with another tool to sow fear in our communities and trample on our rights--with a draconian Terror Law in the horizon--is worrying and disturbing."

"With a government that has emboldened its own uniformed personnel to violate human rights with impunity, how can we be sure that the police will not abuse this new power to intrude into the privacy of our homes and encroach upon our liberties, targeting those who have been vocal with their grievances and criticisms of the government's callous neglect of the people's livelihood, health and lives?," the NUPL said.

"In reality, what is prone to abuse is not home quarantine but this unnecessary power of the police to conduct home visitations," they added. -- BAP, GMA News