BINAY QUESTIONS LIFTING OF SELF-QUARANTINE RULE
28 JUNE 2009
REF: JOEY SALGADO
BINAY QUESTIONS LIFTING OF SELF-QUARANTINE RULE, SAYS DOH DECISION WILL BENEFIT MRS ARROYO AT PUBLIC’S EXPENSE
Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay today questioned the decision of the Department of Health to ease the mandatory self-quarantine rule for travellers just a few days after the agency mulled declaring a full-blown community outbreak of AH1N1 in Metro Manila.
Binay said the lifting of the self-quarantine rule would conveniently benefit Mrs. Arroyo, who is scheduled to arrive from her travel to Asia and Latin America , but would be inimical to public welfare.
“I sincerely hope that the DoH decision to lift the mandatory self-quarantine rule was not intended for the convenience of Mrs. Arroyo. Such a move is highly irresponsible as it places the comfort of one person over the welfare of the entire population,” he said.
“We are puzzled why the Department of Health would ease restrictions on self-quarantine when just two days ago it was studying the possibility of declaring a community-outbreak in Metro Manila,” he said.
The opposition leader said just last Friday, the DoH confirmed that the country had 861 cases of AH1N1 flu virus, the second highest in Southeast Asia . DoH officials also said they were studying whether or not to declare a full-blown community outbreak in Metro Manila, where 70 percent of the 861 cases have been reported.
Last week, the DoH placed Metro Manila under a “low-level” community outbreak after several cases of A(H1N1) were reported in schools.
“The easing of the self-quarantine rule is rather convenient for Mrs. Arroyo, who is set to return to the country from her jet-setting in Asia and Latin America . And it would not stand in the way of her future travel plans considering that she appears to have been bitten by the travel bug,” he said.
“We do not claim to substitute our judgement over that of the DOH on these matters, but as responsible government officials, we should make sure that all steps are taken to protect the public,” Binay said.
He added that the self-quarantine rule “does not entail any cost on the side of government.” “As a matter of policy, I would rather continue its implementation,” he said.
Earlier, Binay reminded Mrs. Arroyo and the members of her travel entourage – which includes 16 congressmen, their wives and children – to observe the self-quarantine period upon their return to the country.
“They have travelled at taxpayers’ expense and the least they can do is not to infect the public with new strains of A(H1N1),” he said.
Mrs. Arroyo left for Japan and Brazil last week just a few days after arriving from South Korea and Russia . She also took a detour to Colombia in what Palace officials described as a private visit that was not on the official itinerary.
The Makati mayor said if public outcry over the cost of Mrs. Arroyo’s frequent travels has not stopped her from leaving the country, he hopes the A(H1N1) virus should put the brakes on her “jet-setting ways.”
“Perhaps, Mrs. Arroyo should seriously consider restricting or completely foregoing her jet-setting ways since the World Health Organization has declared a global pandemic,” he said.
“If she wishes to ignore the outcry over the cost to the taxpayers of her frequent foreign travels, she should at least consider the consequences to public health,” he added.