MANILA, Philippines – An undersecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is advocating a “shame campaign” against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients who will refuse to undergo quarantine at government facilities amid the pandemic.
DILG Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño said that it would be right that the public know the status of their neighbors who could be positive or asymptomatic for COVID-19.
“Now, I believe it’s right that we have a shame campaign because COVID is no joke. Just imagine how many there are – let’s not let it increase. The government will do everything to stop this pandemic,” he said in Filipino over Radyo5.
However, the spokesman for the DILG thumbed down Diño’s pronouncement and said that this does not reflect the official policy of the government.
Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that the government still wants to protect the rights of the patient even amid the pandemic.
“No, we will not do a shame campaign because we have to protect the rights of the patient as well. If he did say that, I think he’s only expressing his personal opinion,” he said in a text message.
Diño said during the radio interview that being COVID-19 positive should not be kept a secret so that the public would not have a chance to socialize with infected persons, supposedly in a bid to prevent further community transmission, the driving force behind the surge in recent cases.
Diño’s statement comes as the government’s newest program, Oplan Kalinga, has garnered criticism for its house-to-house tracking of COVID-19 patients.
Under the program, mild and asymptomatic COVID cases will be transferred to a government quarantine facility if their houses are not conducive to home quarantine.
Diño downplayed the criticism that likened the new program to Oplan Tokhang, or the house-to-house visits by policemen on supposed drug personalities that has proven fatal for many of its subjects.
He assured the public that barangay and city health workers will lead Oplan Kalinga, while state law enforcers would only be there to assist them during the transfer.
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