INTERIOR Secretary Eduardo Año yesterday told Tarlac officials to stop opposing the national government’s decision to bring Filipinos repatriated from Wuhan City in China to the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City in Capas in Tarlac town for quarantine for novel coronavirus (nCoV).
Local government officials and residents of Capas in Tarlac are opposing the decision to use the village as temporary quarantine area.
“Tumulong na lang sila kesa umangal. Pag mangyari sa kanila ito, ganun din, tutulong ang gobyerno at ibang LGUs (local government units). Mga Pilipino naman tong tinutulungan natin (They should help instead of complaining. If the same thing happens to them, government and other LGUs local government units will help. We are helping fellow Filipinos),” he said.
He said he will be the first to oppose the decision if it will endanger the lives of Tarlac residents.
The Capas town council has passed a resolution against turning the Athletes’ Village into a quarantine site, citing health concerns. Town Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan even urged President Duterte to consider another facility as quarantine zone.
Año said local government officials in Tarlac were informed of the plan to quarantine the OFWs at the Athletes’ Village, contrary to some reports.
The government initially planned to quarantine the repatriates at the drug rehabilitation facility inside Fort Magsaysay, home to the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, in Nueva Ecija, but later decided to bring them to Athletes Village.
“This is a sudden decision made by the IATF (inter-agency task force). Initially, the Mega Rehab Drug Center was the primary choice but due to lack of amenities, it was designated as secondary [site] while the Athletes Village is chosen as the primary,” said Año.
“The LGU was also informed accordingly. There is nothing for the LGU to prepare for because the IATF takes care of everything. The village itself is isolated and does not affect the daily lives of the people,” Año also said.
The Department of Health assured the public that no contamination took place when the first batch of Filipinos arrived yesterday from Wuhan, the epicenter of nCoV.
Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo said the repatriates were brought to the village after they landed at the Clark International Airport where they will be quarantined for 14 days.
“We made sure that the plan for disembarkation, deplaning of the repatriates is strictly implemented. It went well. No contamination at the airport where they deplaned. Wala ring symptoms na nakita sa airport or nung habang nakasakay sila sa eroplano (The showed no symptoms),” Bayugo said.
“They were safe and resting in the quarantine facility,” he added, stressing that the luggage of the repatriates have also been disinfected as well as the three coaster buses used to transport them from Clark airport.
Bayugo said the DOH and other government agencies planned well for the repatriation.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said any Capas official or resident, “with interest in business, tourism, investment or health may file a complaint to enjoin the use of the Athlete’s Village as quarantine facilities, but the court will weigh their private or community interests against the wider public health and social welfare considerations.”
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay assured Capas residents and the communities near the New Clark City they have nothing to fear as the village is far from the main community.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, reiterated that all precautionary measures and protocols had been adopted by government agencies to make sure the virus would not spread, especially to the communities around the quarantine site.
He also said it is “natural” that Tarlac will oppose the decision but stressed the village is owned by the national government, so local governments have no say there. – With Ashzel Hachero and Jocelyn Montemayor