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CHR Warns Against 'Oplan Kalinga' COVID-19 Home Searches

The agency pointed out the Constitutional right to be secure in one's house.
by John Paulo Aguilera
Jul 15, 2020
Photo/s: Jerome Ascano

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is conflicted over the government's recent contact tracing efforts called "Oplan Kalinga," which reportedly involves the authorities literally knocking on the door of COVID-19 positive patients.

The independent agency said in a statement: "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 CHR cited Republic Act No. 11332, or the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases, which protects personal information gathered according to the Data Privacy Act.

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It also pointed out the Constitutional right of people to be secure in their houses, and that any forcible entry is illegal.

"In our efforts to prevent the prolonged spread of the pandemic, we urge the government to be more circumspect in enacting contact tracing actions and refrain from utilizing sweeping measures that may lead to the diminution of the rights of individuals. As all human rights are interrelated and interdependent, the protection of all rights must be balanced."

Earlier today, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año clarified that the police will only have supporting role to local health authorities in Oplan Kalinga, while Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque assured that instead of house-to-house searches, reports have to come from the patients themselves, household members, or the barangay.

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