“It pains me when I hear about incidents that make the lives of persons suffering from COVID-19 or the frontliners difficult, (such as) when they are refused a ride, evicted from their homes or shamed online because of fear and paranoia,” Moreno said after signing the law.
Russell Palma/File
Manila OKs measure to protect health workers
Rey Galupo (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Manila Mayor Isko Moreno on Thursday signed a city ordinance that penalizes persons who commit any act of discrimination against patients infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), health workers and other frontliners in the fight against the virus.

Ordinance 8624 – authored by Councilors Joel Chua and Jong Isip, majority floor leader and president pro tempore, respectively, of the city council – prohibits any person from committing any act that would disgrace, shame, humiliate or harass a person infected with, under monitoring or investigation for, COVID-19, as well as public and private doctors, nurses, health workers, emergency personnel and volunteers, service workers assigned to hospitals or other centers where these persons are being treated.

The ordinance carries a penalty of P5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding six months.

Chua said that if the offender is a public officer, then the maximum penalty shall be imposed.

“It pains me when I hear about incidents that make the lives of persons suffering from COVID-19 or the frontliners difficult, (such as) when they are refused a ride, evicted from their homes or shamed online because of fear and paranoia,” Moreno said after signing the law.

He said the ordinance seeks to protect frontliners and other service providers such as employees, workers at markets, groceries, pharmacies and other similar establishments deemed essential under the enhanced community quarantine. 

Chua said public officials were bombarded with complaints from COVID-19 patients and persons under monitoring or investigation for the virus last week.

He said the last straw that led to the filing of the resolution at the city council was when a patient who tested positive and was eventually released after he recovered was not allowed to enter his unit at the Celadon Residences in Sta. Cruz, Manila by the building administrator.

Another incident was when several barangay officials announced through a public address system that certain members of a particular family were under investigation for COVID-19 in Tondo.

There were also incidents when frontliners were not allowed to enter their respective barangays for fear that they were already infected.

“But the hardest part is when people began posting on their Facebook accounts about certain people who were allegedly infected in their community, which caused undue humiliation and discrimination against the supposed victims,” Chua told The STAR.

He added that there were instances when a person under monitoring was already declared positive by a neighbor.

After several hours of deliberation, with every councilor airing their grievances and stories in their respective districts, the city council unanimously passed the ordinance, which will take effect after 15 days upon publication of the measure.

HEALTH WORKERS ISKO MORENO YORME
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