Pateros mayor backs down on mandatory tagging of homes with COVID-19 cases

Published September 19, 2021, 7:46 AM

by Jonathan Hicap

Pateros Mayor Miguel “Ike” Ponce III backed down on his plan to tag houses with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases with yellow ribbon after it was criticized as discriminatory.

In a Facebook post Saturday, the Office of the Mayor issued a statement to say that the tagging will now be voluntary.

​​​​​​​Pateros Mayor Miguel “Ike” Ponce III (left) and contact tracers in Pateros assisting in the transport of COVID-19 positive patients to an isolation center (screenshot from Pateros video, DILG Pateros)

“Ang paglalagay po ng yellow ribbon sa bahay ng may COVID-19 positive patient at close contact ay ginagawa para sa mabisang monitoring at epektibong pagdadala ng tulong galing sa Pamahalaaang Bayan at Barangay bilang bahagi ng epektibong pagpapatupad ng granular lockdown (Putting a yellow ribbon on a house with a COVID-19 positive patient and close contact is being done for effective monitoring and delivery of assistance from the municipal government and barangay as part of the effective implementation of the granular lockdown),” it stated.

It added, “Ito po ay voluntary kung nais nating makiisa upang agarang mapigil ang hawahan ng covid -19 virus at hindi kailanman ipipilit sa inyo ng labag sa inyong kalooban (This is voluntary if we want to cooperate in order to immediately prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus and this will never be forced on you against your will).”

Ponce announced through a live broadcast on Facebook last Sept. 15 that houses with positive cases will be tagged with a yellow ribbon for easy identification.

“To ensure that it will be secured and for easy identification, we will put a tag. This is no longer embarrassing. We are no longer embarrassed to say, be known by our neighbors that we tested positive,” he said.

On Sept. 17, he issued rules on the implementation of granular lockdown in Pateros. He said houses of a COVID-19 positive patient and close contact will be both put under granular lockdown.

Houses under granular lockdown will be tagged with a yellow ribbon for easy monitoring and delivery of assistance from the barangay or municipal government.

Occupants of houses under lockdown are not allowed to go out for 14 days except when they are housemates of the close contact, health workers or non-health workers working in health facilities, departing overseas Filipino workers (OFW) or who will attend to an emergency health concern.

Many netizens opposed the yellow ribbon tagging, saying this is a form of discrimination and may result in the occupants being ostracized by their neighbors.

“Voluntary or not, nobody deserves to be discriminated or treated this way! Nobody wants to get infected in the first place and if they get infected they don’t absolutely want to infect others,” one netizen commented.

Another said, “Yellow ribbon e di ba po nga dapat protektahan pa din identity ng mga nagpositive to avoid discrimination?”

Under the rules set by Ponce, a house with a positive patient will be put under granular lockdown immediately on the day that the result of the reverse transcription- polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test comes out.

The house will be on lockdown even if the patient has been taken to a government isolation facility or is under home quarantine. His companions in the house will be classified as close contacts.

The mayor said if the close contact of the positive patient lives in another house, that house will also be put under granular lockdown. The close contact should be under quarantine in his house as a precaution and not to infect his companions if he tests positive for COVID-19. The close contact should wait for contact tracers who will guide them on what to do.

No visitors will be allowed inside the house or area under granular lockdown during the entire duration of the lockdown.

If a street or alley has several houses that have been put under lockdown due to a positive patient or close contact, the entire street or alley will be declared as “restricted zone.”

People who will be allowed to enter and exit the restricted zone are authorized persons outside of residence (APOR) who live in houses that are not under granular lockdown. No visitors will be allowed inside the zone and a liquor ban will be implemented in the affected area.

All businesses in a house or area under lockdown will be closed. People under granular lockdown who will violate the rules need to repeat the 14-day period from the day their violation was identified.

Based on the municipal government’s last update on Sept. 9, Pateros has 695 active COVID-19 cases out of 6,546 confirmed cases, 5,772 recoveries and 79 deaths.