Senator Risa Hontiveros has expressed alarm over the government’s plan to deploy police officers and local government officials to search for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms and transfer them to an isolation facility, saying the move is reminiscent of “Oplan Tokhang.”
“Parang tokhang, pero pang-COVID,” Hontiveros said in a statement, referring to the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) anti-illegal drug campaign which critics have linked to human rights violations.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año had earlier said the government will now conduct house-to-house visits to look for individuals positive for COVID under the “Oplan Kalinga” program, as the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) now discourages home quarantine for COVID-19 patients.
According to Año, these patients will be transferred to temporary isolation facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within homes.
“(But) this may actually discourage more people from reporting their status. We need to improve home and community-based healthcare,” Hontiveros said.
“Imbes na pulis, mas kinakailangan ang mga doktor at health workers sa barangay at mga kabahayan (Instead of police, we need more doctors and health workers within communities),” the senator said.
“We need more and better barangay-based healthcare, not this,” she stressed.
The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed 57,545 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, with 1,603 deaths and 20,459 recoveries.