The Department of Health (DOH) said that the deployment of policemen during President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), while waiting for their coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test results, is considered a “breach” of protocol.
“Yes, we will say that there was this breach because we have guidelines for that. At alam natin na they should not have been deployed kung hindi pa natin alam yung mga resulta, kung ang objective natin is deploying them to safeguard the event (And we know that they shouldn’t have been deployed if we don’t know yet the results, if our objective is to deploy them to safeguard the event),” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Thursday, July 29.
“Kung nagsasagawa ng ganitong activities or testing to screen people, kailangan (If we conduct such activities or testing to screen people, we must be) we are aware of our protocols. If the intention or objective is to screen our employees or these policemen, we should have quarantined them first before they were sent out to be deployed,” she added.
The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) said that 82 policemen tested positive for COVID-19, 51 of them were deployed during the SONA.
It is also possible that those policemen were super spreaders, said Vergeire.
“It is a possibility pero sa ngayon hindi pa natin masabi iyan because we are just assuming (for now) na marami silang nakasalamuha. Wala pang resulta ng contact tracing (It is a possibility but so far we can’t say that because we are just assuming (for now) that they have interacted a lot of people. There are still no results of contact tracing efforts),” she said.
The DOH urged those who came in contact with the policemen, particularly protesters during the SONA, to coordinate with their respective local government units (LGUs).
“We would like to encourage na lahat po ng dumalo diyan sa event na iyan kung alam nyong nakasalamuha nyo yung ating kapulisan, maaring dumulog sa local government units para ma advise what you are supposed to do (We would like to encourage everyone who attended that event that if you came in contact with a police officer, coordinate with your local government units for them to advise what you are supposed to do),” said Vergeire.