Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said Sunday a person who has been exposed to COVID-19 and shows signs of infection can be compelled to take a swab test, be mandatorily quarantined, and be medically treated to prevent the spread of the virus.
But Guevarra explained that “as a general rule, a person cannot be compelled to take a swab test, even if it’s for free, if said person has not been exposed to a COVID-positive person and does not exhibit any symptoms of the disease.”
Thus, he said, “rather than threatening people with suit if they refuse to be tested, moral suasion may be a more effective approach.”
He pointed out that “health professionals are in a better position than anyone else to explain to the people the benefit of voluntary testing, especially if it’s offered by the government for free.”
Guevarra reacted to Navotas City Mayor Roby Tiangco who expressed concern on residents who refuse to undergo free swab tests.
Tiango said that while his city has significantly reduced COVID-19 infections among the residents, the gains achieved may be offset by residents who refuse to take swab tests even for free.
He said that only 24,004 out of the city’s 267,000 residents have been swabbed so far “and we still have a long way to go.”
“We are saddened by the fact that only a few of them are willing to avail themselves of the free test. We will make it mandatory for people working in the streets like tricycle drivers, jeepney drivers, market vendors, and food service workers,” he said.