MANILA - Several senators on Wednesday denounced the government's plan to conduct a house-to-house search for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients who need to be transferred to isolation facilities, saying the task should be given to medical professionals.
The plan is "impractical" and runs "counter to the constitutional prohibition on warrantless searches," Sen. Joel Villanueva said.
"May mga naka-military uniform, police uniform, papasok doon [sa community] nakaarmas. Of course it will add to the anxiety dito sa alarming situation na nararamdaman natin sa pandemic," Villanueva told reporters in an online press conference.
"Perception is important," he said.
Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, the former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the participation of uniformed personnel in the campaign should be "reduced."
"It will be good for the PNP to avoid being accused again of militarizing the approach to a health issue," he told reporters in a text message.
Communicating the government's plan to counter the global pandemic are "better left to doctors," Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said in a statement.
"If the nation is the patient, let those trained to have good bedside manners announce the treatment," he said.
"Iba ang dating kapag doktor ang magsasabi na inumin mo itong gamot na ito, kaysa kung ang utos ay galing sa iba," he said.
(It is different when a doctor tells you to take this medicine, compared to when somebody else prescribes it.)
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said that police will have to search homes to ensure that even asymptomatic COVID-19 patients or mild cases are brought to government isolation facilities to curb the spread of the disease in communities.
After online backlash, Año clarified that only households that could not provide an isolation room for their kin with COVID-19 would be searched.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that he was not informed about the plan for a house-to-house search, while Malacañang officials denied that the plan would be implemented.