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CHR flags house-to-house search for COVID-19 patients for rights violation

By: Daphne Galvez - Inquirer.net July 15,2020 - 12:06 PM

MANILA, Philippines — Recent government measures to curb the spread of coronavirus disease such as the house-to-house search for infected patients could be a violation of certain rights, such as the right to privacy.

In a statement Wednesday, the Commission on Human Rights said that while protecting health is needed, “it must not come at the expense or the diminution of other rights.”

“The recent pronouncement of the government—to assign state security forces, police officers and local government unit representatives, to conduct house-to-house searches to look for and transfer COVID-19 patients under home quarantine to isolation facilities managed by the government—is susceptible to overreach in terms of guaranteeing the right to privacy and right of individuals to be secure in their abode,” the commission said.

Meanwhile, the transfer of COVID-19 patients under home quarantine to isolation facilities could violate the constitutional right of people to be secure in their houses, the CHR claimed.

“It is worth noting that the Constitutional right of people to be secure in their houses, papers, and effects is inviolable and makes illegal the forcible entry, search, arrest, and seizure of individuals inside the safety of their homes without a determined probable cause,” it said.

The agency urged the government that while it battles the pandemic, it should likewise avoid implementing “sweeping measures” that could lead to the violation or “diminution” of the rights of the individuals.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has said COVID-19 patients will no longer be allowed to undergo home quarantine if their homes do not have necessary isolation facilities such as own room and own bathroom.

Thus, the government will be going house-to-house for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms so they can be transferred to monitoring facilities to avoid the further spread of the virus.

However, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque clarified that there will be no house-to-house search for COVID-19 patients and authorities will only be transferring reported infected individuals to government quarantine facilities. / EDV

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