Drilon on house-to-house search: No warrant, no entry

No warrant, no entry.

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon issued the statement Wednesday as he opposed the Inter-Agency Task Force’s (IATF) plan to conduct house-to-house search for mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients and escort them to government isolation centers in a bid to fight the pandemic.

Senator Franklin Drilon
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We have reached a crossroad in our fight against the COVID pandemic that our very government is set to flagrantly violate the very rights that we, the people, have always held to be sacred,” Drilon said.

Drilon pointed out that for the past few months, government officials have failed over and over again to flatten the curve, even though the Senate has done its part legislating the necessary measures to help in addressing the crisis.

“We have extended and legislated all the necessary measures, as they have requested from the Senate to battle this crisis and yet, repeatedly, our officials have miserably failed, through incompetence, negligence, and abject refusal to do mass testing and extensive contact tracing that have immeasurably resulted in the dramatic rise of COVID cases,” the minority leader pointed out.

“Worse, the infection has extended far beyond Metro Manila and Luzon and now, we see the contagion seemingly spreading in almost all the four corners of our country. As a last resort and with a total lack of imagination, the IATF is about to embark on violating our rights,” Drilon said.

Had the government acted prudently and expeditiously from the start, Drilon said the Philippines would not have reached the point where state security forces are commanded to desecrate people’s inviolable constitutional right to be secure in their persons, houses “…against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose.”

“And for this reason, I say: ‘No warrant, no entry!’ I urge the government to revisit their decision to invade our people’s homes," Drilon said.

“We need health professionals to contact trace those affected, not the police to sow fear and panic,” he added.

The lawmaker said officials need to be creative in their solution, instead of employing fascist actions to demand submission, which he noticed, has not effectively worked in the past few months.

“And lastly, we need the government to draw out the people’s cooperation and it can only be done when our people see that the government has a clear focused strategy to contain this virus. Sadly, that remains to be seen,” he lamented.

According to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, “Opan Kalinga” will only be done for residences of COVID-19 patients that are not conducive for home quarantine. He said the national government has decided to discourage home quarantine for mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, as some patients were uncooperative.

Año also assured that the operation will be headed by local health officials and not by policemen.