Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año remained mum on Vice-President Leni Robredo’s criticism that the department is more focused on scare tactics on individuals who refused to undergo coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) swab test than convincing them to do so.
Citing that it was only the Vice-President’s opinion, Año said: “There is no need for me to react.’’
On Sept. 17, Año noted that the COVID-19 swab test dodgers face jail terms or fines after being pressed if penalties await individuals with symptoms or in close contact with infected patients who refused to be tested for the virus.
Año pointed out that those who will dodge swab tests may be meted a fine of P20,000 to P50,000 or imprisonment of up to six months.
“Pwede silang kasuhan dahil ilalagay niya sa panganib ang ibang tao kung siya ay infected (They can be charged since they put the lives of many people at risk if he is infected),’’ Año said.
The DILG Chief explained that symptomatic individuals or those exposed to people with COVID-19 are required to be tested under the Republic Act 11332 or the “Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases.”
Even with free RT-PCR tests in some localities, some people still refused to be tested as they fear this may reveal that they are positive for the virus, sending them to an isolation facility for two weeks that affects particularly the daily wage earners who are in the no work, no pay status.
Año admitted being aware of the concerns of the daily wage earners but insisted that being a COVID-19 carrier that can infect their family members is a far worse predicament.
In a GMA News report on Sept. 19, Robredo criticized the DILG for giving sanctions on individuals refusing the RT-PCR tests.
Stressing that swab test dodgers should not be penalized, Robredo noted that the DILG should instead provide incentives in case people do not want to undergo the procedure.
“Napakahirap na nga ng buhay ngayon. Kung sana mas mag-exercise ng empathy at mag-intindi kung ano ba dahilan kung bakit may resistance (swab testing) doon (Now are difficult times. It is better to just exercise empathy and understand why there is resistance to that),’’ Robredo said. (Chito A. Chavez)