THE Health Alliance for Democracy (Head)-Cebu Chapter expressed grave concerns over the decision of the government to have police find and take persons infected with coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to isolation facilities.
In a statement sent to SunStar Cebu, the health group said this house-to-house style of tracking Covid-19 patients is "uncalled for at this crucial point when health crisis response in the Philippines is obviously failing."
The country has 61,266 total Covid-19 cases with a total of 1,643 reported deaths as of 2 p.m. of July 17, 2020, the group noted.
It said it hit the 60,000 end of July projection of the experts of the University of the Philippines even earlier than July 31st.
"These numbers do not need more police and military presence and intervention. Rather, a proactive, inclusive, and pro-people response in the Covid-19 health crisis," the group said.
Head-Cebu Chapter said it demands those in power to stop "sowing fear" in the communities.
"It is disturbing to arm law enforcers and give them the power to intrude into people’s homes given the fear of Covid-19 infection and the infamous Oplan Tokhang of the government in its bloody war on drugs. And this, after all the human rights violations committed by the police during the pandemic, including arrests of people for minor infringements," read a portion of their statement.
With the alleged abusive records of the police in a recent United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report, the health group said the house-to-house visit "could be used as an instrument to target those who are critical about the anti-people policies and incompetence of the government in handling the Covid-19 pandemic."
It said it is even more alarming with the looming effectivity of the newly signed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 or the Anti-Terror Law of the Duterte government.
The group called on the government to "step up" its efforts instead in ending the suffering of the people due to the pandemic.
What the people need, it said, is empowerment through education and information dissemination about Covid-19, health system and sector support, crisis intervention with first responders who are trained to respond to health crises, certainly not the police.
It is important to focus on community-based services that would decrease the desperation and suffering of the people. Give them the resources they need without criminalizing them for going out. No guns and human rights violations needed, the group furthered.
The group also reiterated its call to the national government to urgently act on the public health emergency by giving the most needed support to the "degrading health system" and sector through mass testing that targets the medical frontliners, essential workers, people with comorbidities and communities with a high number of Covid-19 cases; hiring more nurses and doctors, and giving of the intended nurse’s and doctor’s salary in accordance to the law-in addition to the hazard pay and additional benefits that must be given to them on time whether public or private institution.
All these efforts do not require violence and police intervention, or a new law in the face of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, the group said.
The Philippines, the group said, is not winning in its Covid-19 response.
It is still a long battle and until the government realizes its "incompetence and does its actual mandate," the people will continue to suffer, it said.
"We demand action, accountability, and transparency from the government, therefore," it said. (WBS with PR)