MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon criticized Wednesday the government's decision to force some home-quarantined Filipinos to transfer to government isolation wards, saying it is "set to flagrantly violate" people's rights.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said police may enter homes to check if mild and asymptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients need to be transferred to isolation facilities to avoid spreading the virus to other family members.
"No warrant, no entry!" Drilon said in a statement.
"If this government had only acted prudently and expeditiously, we would not have reached this point where our state security forces are being commanded to desecrate our inviolable constitutional right to be secure... against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose," he said.
Drilon said the national government should "revisit their decision to invade our people’s homes," noting that the COVID-19 crisis needs medical professionals and "not fascist actions."
"We need health professionals to contact trace those affected, not the police to sow fear and panic," he said.
"We need officials to be creative in their solution, not fascist actions to demand submission," he said.
Minority Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the house-to-house inspection is reminiscent of "Oplan Tokhang," which left thousands of suspected drug users and peddlers killed inside or near their homes.
"This may actually discourage more people from reporting their status," Hontiveros said in a statement.
"We need more, better barangay-based healthcare, not this," she said.
The COVID-19 "pandemic does not suspend the bill of rights" in the Constitution, Drilon said.
"We need government to draw out the people’s cooperation and it can only be done when our people see that government has a clear focused strategy to contain this virus," he said.
"Sadly, that remains to be seen," he said.
As of July 14, the Philippines recorded 57,545 COVID-19 cases, one of the highest in Southeast Asia. Of those patients, 20,459 recovered, 1,603 died, while the rest are still recovering from the disease.