By Martin A. Sadongdong
Authorities arrested at least 39 persons for allegedly attacking and discriminating healthcare workers who are taking the lead in the fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), an inter-agency task force commander bared on Friday.
Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, commander of Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said a total of 104 cases of attacks and discrimination against health workers were recorded from March 17, the start of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon, until April 29.
Of these, 53 cases were already solved while 13 others were cleared. At least 38 cases are still being investigated.
A case is considered solved if at least one of the suspects is arrested and charged. Meanwhile, a cleared case means that a criminal case was already filed but no suspect has been arrested yet.
Of the solved and cleared cases, 39 suspects were arrested and appropriate criminal charges were filed against them.
Eleazar said among the cases, include the splashing of cleaning chemicals to health workers, as reported in Cebu and Cotabato, and evicting them from their houses and rented units.
Most of the cases were recorded in Central Visayas (Region 7), with 17 cases; Western Visayas (Region 6), with 14; Mimaropa or Region 4-B (Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan), with 11; and National Capital Region (NCR), with 10.
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) had no record of attacks on healthcare workers.
“The Filipino people owe to the health workers why we are still standing as a nation and why we continue to believe that we could defeat the coronavirus disease. Health workers serve as the hope and the inspiration of even the other frontliners like the police and the military to continue fighting because they know that even if they fall, there will be health workers who would take care of them,” Eleazar said.
“The least that we could do as law enforcers is to protect them from shameless and inconsiderate people who unfairly treat them despite their sacrifices,” he added.
Eleazar urged healthcare workers to contact JTF COVID Shield through its hotline numbers 0998-849-0013 (Smart) and 0917-538-2495 (Globe), and email address at [email protected] for security concerns.
The JTF COVID Shield is the enforcement arm of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF). It is composed of the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).