DOH must explain if protocols were violated

Office of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
News Release
19 November 2014

How Sen. Pia would greet Sec. Garin at the Senate

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today said it is the responsibility of the officials of Department of Health (DoH) who recently paid a visit to the 133 Filipino peacekeepers under quarantine, to explain to the public whether their actions were aboveboard, or to clarify whether quarantine protocols were violated when they stepped foot on Caballo Island without wearing any protective gear.

“I would assume that our DoH officials should be the ones to know the protocol. Hindi ko pangungunahan kung ano yung tamang dapat gawin at exceptions na pwede. Kung nasunod yung protocol, then there’s no issue. I don’t think it’s correct for any of us non-public health authorities to question it,” said Cayetano, the vice chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

“Pero kung alam nilang may nilabag sila, huwag na rin nilang hintayin na magduda din ang tao. They should come out and tell us straight if there were protocols violated or if there were none. They know what the protocol is,” she added.

Asked if she agreed with the view that the visit of health and military officials to Caballo Island was an act of recklessness, she replied: “I don’t judge. I leave it to up them. By now, nakarating na rin naman siguro sa kanila na may mga nagku-question kung bakit bumisita, or in what manner bumisita, so siguro sila na dapat ang sumagot noon.”

“Let’s not add fuel to the fire because I think it’s irresponsible, for a very big issue, for any public official to question. But it should also be the responsibility of the DoH officials, for them themselves to make it known to the public, that their actions were in fact above board. Otherwise, tinakot naman natin yung public unnecessarily.”

The senator clarified that she has been an advocate of non-discrimination against persons with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and HBV (Hepatitis B virus), and would not want the same discrimination committed against those perceived to have been exposed to Ebola.

“I’ve been an advocate of non-discrimination of HIV and Hepa B patients. I’ve had hearings where the Hepa B carriers say they are not able to get jobs, [just] because other people think [they would spread the infection] just because kausap mo ko, just because hinawakan ko yung kamay mo, o magbeso-beso pa ko. So we clarified that they should not be unduly discriminated against because it is not contagious in that manner.”

She continued: “It just so happens that I know what the HIV and Hepa B transmission modes are. For Ebola, that’s all new to us, so we don’t know the specifics,” she said, adding that the situation should not come to a point where health workers doing their official job to help others would be unduly discriminated.

Asked if she would shake the hand of acting DOH Secretary Janet Garin should their paths cross when the health budget is taken up at the Senate deliberations, Cayetano answered that since she is still unfamiliar with the DOH protocol, she would probably greet the secretary by placing her right hand over her heart.

The senator added that the gesture is not really unusual, saying that it is normal for people to say ‘Sorry, I can’t shake your hand or kiss you today’ when one has colds or an ailment.

The senator is referring to the ‘handless shake,’ also known as the ‘Ebola greeting’ which has become a symbolic gesture in West Africa. #

For more details on the ‘handless shake,’ read: ‘Meeting without touching – the new vogue of Ebola greetings’ http://plan-international.org/about-plan/resources/news/meeting-without-touching-the-new-vogue-of-ebola-greetings/

Photo: Sen. Pia Cayetano with Senate reporters Dindo Matinig, Jeff Antiporda, Marvin Sy and TJ Burgonio do the ‘Ebola greeting’ during a break at the Senate deliberations on the 2015 proposed national government budget.

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