Health measures meant to stop COVID not punitive

September 20, 2021 Jun I. Legaspi 323 views

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Monday said the strict measures being imposed by the government in areas under granular lockdowns, such as mandatory testing or 14-day quarantine, are not meant to be punitive but to contain and prevent further transmission of the coronavirus.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that the DILG is just enforcing both the spirit and the letter of Republic Act (RA) No. 11332 which is meant to protect the public from health threats and to promote and protect the right to health of the people. “Because of the Delta variant, the government needs to undertake decisive, quick, and aggressive measures to put an end to this pandemic that we have been battling for a year and a half now.”

“Sa panahon ngayon, hindi puwede ang patumpik-tumpik. Kailangan ang mabilisang desisyon at aksyon kasi ganoon din kabilis kumalat ang Delta variant,” he said.

He said that under Section 9 of RA 11332, non-cooperation of infected (positive cases) persons and affected (exposed or close contacts) persons in a pandemic shall be meted with penalties because they are endangering the lives of other people.

“Non-cooperation means for the positive patient to refuse to be isolated and the close contact refusing to undergo swabbing or testing or mandatory 14-day quarantine if he or she does not want to be tested. The mandate of the DILG is clear. We do not aim for punishment but in fact we have been encouraging 14-day quarantine for those not willing to take a swab test,” he said.

“We wish to assure the public that the Department practices reasonableness, empathy, and consciousness of the conditions on the ground kaya nga po ang payo ay magquarantine kung ayaw magpa-swab test. Ang pagka-quarantine ay pinapayo rin mismo ng batas,” he added.

RA 11332, passed into law in April 2019, is aimed at establishing effective mechanisms for strong collaboration with national and local government health agencies to ensure proper procedures are in place to promptly respond to reports of notifiable diseases and health events of public health concern, including case investigations, treatment, and control and containment, including follow-up activities.

Implementation of law, Año added, must not be misconstrued, distorted, or used against law enforcement but rather be held on a higher priority standard and executed as intended by Congress.

The DILG Chief reiterated his public pronouncement that “If you’re a close contact and you don’t want to be tested, puwede naman iyon but you will remain to be quarantined for 14 days.”

He said that to imply that the government and the DILG are disconnected from the plight and challenges faced by the Filipino citizens, especially the poor and marginalized, is farthest from the truth. “Ang DILG kasama ang Department of Social Welfare and Development at mga local government units ay ang lead agency sa pamimigay ng ayuda sa ating mga kababayang naghihirap. Alam namin ang damdamin ng tao,” he said.

Meanwhile, he continues to remind and urge the people, especially in areas under granular lockdowns, to cooperate with the protocols set by the government as they are designed to help mitigate the COVID-19 situation of the country and not to burden the people.

He said that in the context of a pandemic, every Filipino must do their part in the fight against a deadly virus “as the government and medical frontliners cannot fight and put an end to COVID-19 crisis alone.”

“Nakikiusap po ako sa ating mga kababayan, makiisa po tayo sa mga hakbangin at tagubilin ng pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ng disiplina sa pagsunod sa public health standards. Tungkulin po natin ito bilang mga Pilipino. Gawin po natin ito bilang ating ambag sa laban kontra COVID-19,” he said.