By Dhel Nazario
An ordinance that penalizes those who “harass” or “humiliate” frontliners and victims of the COVID-19 disease has been passed in Pasay City.
Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano said she was distraught by reports that certain people are discriminating healthcare workers and even law enforcers, janitors, street sweepers, garbage collectors, government employees, barangay officials as well as grocery and supermarket employees.
“Alalahanin natin na nagbubuwis sila ng buhay para lamang makapagbigay serbisyo at mabuhay tayong normal sa panahong may krisis pangkalusugan. Wag natin silang husgahan (Let us remember that they are risking their lives for us so we can live normally during this health crisis),” the mayor said.
In the ordinance, the city council said “it is infuriating that some of our countrymen are blinded by fear and irrationality that they inflict different acts of discrimination not only against our frontliners but also to COVID-19 cases, whether confirmed or suspected, and even those who have already recovered.”
It observed that “COVID-19 infected persons, PUIs, PUMs, health workers, hospital employees, and other frontliners are presently experiencing stigma because of the perceived danger they pose in spreading the virus.”
“This behavior against them hurts everyone by creating unwarranted fear, anxiety or anger in communities. This unduly results to social avoidance or rejection, denial of assistance, healthcare or housing, discrimination, physical violence and other criminal acts against COVID-19 infected persons, PUIs, PUMs, health workers, hospital employees, and other frontliners,” the ordinance read.
In the same ordinance, the council denounced “in its highest form” any act of discrimination against healthcare workers and frontliners.
“There is no room for such acts in the city,” it added.
Thus, the council prohibited “any act of discrimination, harassment, violence, cyber-bullying…that causes stigma, shame, indignity, dishonor, humiliation, or harm against confirmed COVID-19 infected persons, close contact, PUIs, PUMs, health workers, hospital employees, or frontliners.”
It will also penalize person who “influence or instigate another to commit acts of discrimination” against frontliners and COVID-19 victims “through spreading rumors, uttering information or any communication, by electronic means, vandalism or any other manner or method that causes unnecessary fear, anger, panic or violation of rights.”
Residential or commercial owners as well as employers were also warned not to dishonor existing contractual obligations such as contract of lease or employment because the renter or the employee was suspected of having contracted the disease.
The council also notified those who maliciously disclose or announce the identity of COVID-19 patients and frontliners in social media or any means will also be penalized of up to P5,000 and imprisonment of not more than six months.