Lawyer decries lockdown arrests

A LAWYER’S group on Tuesday said quarantine violators should be charged with breaching local ordinances instead of a national law that mandates reporting of diseases that are of public concern.

“It is not only enraging but tragic that tens of thousands of our citizens who do not have the same entitlements as those in or close to the corridors of power had to endure this manifest injustice,” Edre U. Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers, said in a statement.

He accused the government of using a “vague law to justify the harsh implementation of quarantine protocols at best and cover up repressive measures at worst.”

“It’s up to the police to state in the complaint what the charges are for, but it’s up to the prosecutor to determine whether such charges will prosper,” Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said in a mobile phone message on Tuesday.

But Mr. Olalia said that there must first be an official and clear order from the higher officials that police should only arrest or file charges using ordinances.

Law enforcers should also be warned that they could be sued for damages or malicious prosecution. “But whether it will eventually prosper involves many considerations that come into the equation.” — Bianca Angelica D. Añago

Free swab tests sought

A LAWMAKER on Tuesday called on the government to provide free coronavirus swab tests for stranded travelers and public transport drivers.

In a statement, Party-list Rep. Alfredo A. Garbin, Jr. said the government should use revenue from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to provide the free tests.

He said about 80 passengers from Metro Manila who were going home to the Bicol region using unregistered public vehicles had tested positive for the coronavirus. He noted free swab tests would have prevented the spread of the virus to other provinces.

Free swab tests would also prevent Filipinos from using illegal transport because these tests are required under a state program that encourages people to go home to their hometowns. — Gillian M. Cortez

Group seeks health workers’ benefits

A LABOR coalition said health frontliners should get paid using stimulus funds from the government as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

In a statement, the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition said Congress should extend the compensation to health workers.

Under the law, health workers who got the coronavirus while in duty will receive compensation to cover health expenses. Family members of health workers who died from COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) will also get benefits.

Alliance of Filipino Workers (AFW) President Willy Pulia said health workers should get P100,000 if they get infected while on duty. Their family should also get paid P1 million in case the health worker dies from the coronavirus.

The government should consider COVID-19 as an occupational disease so affected workers especially in the healthcare industry will get better benefits, Rudy Ladiao, secretary general of the Unified Filipino service Workers, said in a statement. — Gillian M. Cortez

Congressman justifies ivermectin offer

A CONGRESSMAN who offered the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to Quezon City residents said there was nothing illegal about it.

Party-list Rep. Michael Defensor told DZBB radio he followed protocols set by the Department of Health (DoH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) even in the absence of clinical trials for the drug as a coronavirus treatment.

Mr. Defensor is not the only lawmaker who is not a health professional who is endorsing ivermectin as a treatment against COVID-19. Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy told reporters on Tuesday she uses the drug herself.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told DZBB the drug “gives our citizens a false sense of security.”

Edsel Salvana, a member of the DoH Technical Advisory Group, said too ivermectin could cause brain damage and even death. — Gillian M. Cortez