CHR alarmed over house-to-house contract tracing efforts

Published July 15, 2020, 12:25 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed concern over reports state security forces, police officers, and local government unit representatives could forcibly remove people identified as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients from their homes.

Commission on Human Rights (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

The Commission warned the move may be an “overreach,” going against an individual’s right to privacy and security.

CHR noted that under the constitution, people have the right to remain secure in their own homes, and that forcible entry and transfer of an individual to an isolation facility under the guise of health and safety must be avoided.

It added the government’s use of an individual’s personal information as part of contact tracing efforts should only be done in accordance with the Data Privacy Act.

The CHR also reminded the government that the release of private data to contact tracers is done for public health reasons only, citing R.A. 11332, otherwise known as the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

“In our efforts to prevent the prolonged spread of the pandemic, we urge the government to be more circumspect in enacting contact tracing actions and refrain from utilizing sweeping measures that may lead to the diminution of the rights of individuals. As all human rights are interrelated and interdependent, the protection of all rights must be balanced,” the CHR said in a statement.

Inasmuch as it recognizes the government’s efforts in addressing the COVID-19 health crisis, the Commission stressed, “The human rights principle of interdependence and interrelatedness makes clear that the fulfillment of one right often depends, either wholly or in part, upon the fulfillment of others. Thus, the fulfillment of the right to health may depend, in certain circumstances, on the right to privacy or to the right to be secure in one’s own home.”

Read more: LGUs, PNP to conduct house-to-house in search for suspected COVID cases