By Jean Fernando
The Las Piñas City government announced that any form of discrimination or harassment committed against health workers, frontliners, and coronavirus disease (COVID-19) afflicted residents is now a crime in the city. Violators would be meted with imprisonment and stiff penalties.
City Ordinance No. 1685-20, which also prohibits cyber-bullying or any acts that would cause shame or stigma against confirmed COVID-19 infected person, their close contacts, as well as persons under investigation (PUIs), persons under monitoring (PUMs), health and hospital workers, and other frontliners, was signed yesterday by Mayor Imelda Aguilar.
Aguilar said that cyber-bullying maybe committed through spreading rumors, unverified information or communication using electronics or social media, or other similar methods that may cause unnecessary fear, panic, or violation of the rights of COVID-19 patients or the frontliners.
She said that anyone who would be found violating the ordinance would face imprisonment of not more than six months or 30 days community service, or P5,000 fine, and/or both fine or imprisonment. The jail term and fine would be without prejudice to other penalties provided in other existing laws and ordinances.
The mayor further said that maximum penalties would be meted out if the violator is a public official, aside from the administrative cases to be filed against the official who would tolerate or refuse to take any action to prevent any form of discrimination.
“This is the time when we all need to show compassion and concern to one another, especially those who are suffering most, including their families. Much more our frontliners who put their lives in danger trying to save lives and serve our country,” Aguilar said.
She added that the least we could do to help the health authorities address the dreaded effects of COVID-19 is to stay at home and adopt physical distancing to stop the spread of the virus, and practice personal hygiene.
The ordinance, “Prohibiting Any Person from Committing any Act of Discrimination, Harassment, Violence, Cyber-bullying or any other act causing Stigma, Shame, Dishonor or Humiliation against confirmed COVID-19 infected persons, Close Contacts, PUI, PUM, Health Workers, Hospital Employees, and other Frontliners and Imposing Appropriate Penalties,” was unanimously sponsored by the members of Sangguniang Panglungsod (City Council) during a special session called by Vice Mayor and Council Presiding Officer April Aguilar.