‘Walk the extra mile’ to provide ride for contact tracers, Duterte urges PNP

President Duterte has asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) to provide transportation assistance to the government's contact tracers in the battle against the coronavirus outbreak.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on August 10, 2020. (ARMAN BAYLON/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

The President urged the cops to “walk the extra mile” to ferry the personnel who must travel to places to track down close contacts of a coronavirus patient.

“Nandito man si (Interior and Local Government) Secretary (Eduardo) Año, magpahatid na lang kung anong – anong sakyan diyan sa pulis ‘yung area na ‘yan, doon siya sumakay. Doon sila sumakay. Ihatid sila ng pulis doon sa boundary. Beyond that, ibang pulis na naman ang magsasalo sa kanila para hanapin ‘yung tao (Secretary Año is here. Maybe, the police can take the contract tracer to the nearest boundary. Beyond that, another policeman can provide the ride for the person looking for the close contacts),” Duterte said during his televised remarks Monday night.

“Because the police have the – the resources there pati ‘yung barangay captains na malaman nila kung saan ito nakatira. That would be the fastest way of doing the tracing (Because the police have the resources there, and the barangay captains know where the person lives. That would be the fast way of tracing),” he said.

The government recently announced plans to step up efforts to trace close contacts of coronavirus patients to limit the spread of the disease. The plan includes tracing 30 to 37 contacts and subject them to coronavirus tests.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the country's tracing czar, had earlier expressed concern about the country's limited contract tracing efforts, after finding out only around eight close contacts of a coronavirus patient are being traced. The former cop proposed increasing the tracing efforts.

The Palace had said policemen may be tapped to join the government’s pool of contact tracers.

In his remarks Monday, the President acknowledged that contact tracing must be “financed by the government.”

“Contact tracing means that ‘yung people who are doing the actual tracing will have to travel to the place where the person in question resides. Kailangan ito ng sasakyan (They need vehicles),” he said.

If the contact tracers have no vehicles, Duterte said the policemen can offer a ride to where they need to go. He also assured the cops that he would take care of them.

“Pero kung wala, then the police has to sacrifice and contribute to the solution of the problem now. Mga pulis ko, tutal wala kayong masasabi sa akin. Full support ako sa inyo at ‘yung mga kaso ninyo na duty-connected, huwag kayong mag-alala sabi ko, dedepensahan ko kayo (To my policemen, you can't say anything about me. I've given you full support. Don't worry about your duty-connected cases, I will defend you),” he said.

“At hinihingi ko sa inyo, tumulong lang kayo rin sa ating bayan (My only request is for you to help our country). Walk the extra mile to help our country,” he added.