Amid fears surrounding the Oplan Kalinga program, Mayor Vico Sotto assured that there won’t be any hostile arrests for COVID-19 patients in Pasig.
In a press conference yesterday, July 16, the mayor clarified that local government and health officials, not police officers, will take the lead in the house-to-house visits.
“Kami po ang susundo. Hindi po natin ipapaaresto, unless pasaway na or nakikita natin na talagang positive tapos umiikot at hindi talaga sumusunod, then we will take the appropriate action.”.
Under the Oplan Kalinga program, house-to-house visits will be conducted to identify mild to asymptomatic cases and transfer the individuals to isolation facilities where they will be monitored.
Its extent raised several eyebrows after Philippine National Police chief Gen. Archie Gamboa’s statement likened the program to “locating criminals,” prompting people to point out the possibility of abuse.
Sen Risa Hontiveros meanwhile compared it to the Oplan Tokhang program where police officers conduct house-to-house searches for individuals involved in illegal drug trade.
Parang tokhang pero pang-COVID. https://t.co/agEJTaZ1Jy
— risa hontiveros (@risahontiveros) July 14, 2020
The National Union of People’s Lawyers also criticized the program, questioning the use of the word “kalinga.”
July 14, 2020
PNP’s house-to-house is not the “kalinga” that the people need in this pandemic
With a government that has emboldened its own uniformed personnel to violate human rights with impunity, how can we be sure that police will not abuse this new power.. pic.twitter.com/WiZmUFco16
— National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (@nuplphilippines) July 14, 2020
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año shut down these claims by reiterating that police officers’ role in the program is limited to assisting and escorting the local officials.
But Mayor Vico did acknowledge the need for more aggressive action in pocket lockdowns. At the press conference, he expressed faith in his constituents, whom he observed to generally follow guidelines as long as the local government does its job.
“We may not have a very accurate playbook dahil hindi pa po ito nangyayari dati, but at this point, more or less alam po natin ‘yung framework ng mga kailangan nating gawin,” he said.
As of writing, the COVID-19 tally in the country surged past 63,000 with Metro Manila still placed under general community quarantine with localized lockdowns.
Photo from Inquirer.net