Bill seeks to protect frontliners, patients from discrimination

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Bill seeks to protect frontliners, patients from discrimination
A medical worker sprays disinfectant on a resident before taking an x-ray and an oropharyngeal swab during a mass testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at a park in Quezon City, suburban Manila on April 15, 2020.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros filed a bill seeking to penalize those who would discriminate against healthcare workers, frontline employees and patients amid panic over novel coronavirus infections.

Senate Bill 1436 or the Mandatory Protection of Health Workers, Frontliners and Patients’ Act was filed after there were reports of healthcare workers being attacked and frontliners and patients being barred entry to groceries and their places of residence.

The proposed measure is an amendment to Section 9 of Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Concern Act. It covers all healthcare workers, frontline employees and patients regardless if they are confirmed or merely suspected to be carriers of any illness of public health concern.

Once passed into law, violators of the measure will be slapped with a fine between P20,000 and P50,000 and will face imprisonment of one to six months.

“In the midst of this crisis, our health workers continue to work at the frontlines, risking their and their families' health and well-being for the health and well-being of our community. Discrimination against health workers is a crime against public health,” Hontiveros said.

“Ignorance and hostility will not protect us from the disease. Now, more than ever, we need compassion and community. Now, more than ever, we need to protect our health workers and frontliners," she added.

The national government earlier instructed the Philippine National Police leading the country’s battle against COVID-19 following reports of attacks and discrimination.

The new coronavirus has infected 5,453 people in the Philippines. Of the number, 349 have died, while 353 have recovered.

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