Revilla, others senators bat for penalties for discrimination vs health workers, COVID patients

Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. has joined his colleagues in calling for penalties on discrimination against health workers and suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients.

Revilla, who also contracted COVID-19, recently filed Senate Bill No. 1777 which seeks to punish those who have committed acts that "discriminate, shame, humiliate, or stigmatize" health care and other frontline workers and other persons due to their medical condition.

Senators Imee Marcos and Risa Hontiveros had earlier filed their respective bills on the matter.

In filing his version of the measure, Revilla also cited increasing reports and instances of discriminatory acts and harassment of medical workers and other frontliners, as well as persons suspected of having the coronavirus disease.

He said that some local government units have enacted ordinances to immediately address this discrimination.

Under SB No. 1777, "it shall be unlawful for any person, natural or juridical, to commit any act, such as prevention of entry to residences or establishments, or make utterances which tend to cause stigma, disgrace, shame, humiliation, and harassment or otherwise discriminate against persons suspected or infected of COVID-19, a health worker, or a frontliner."

Public officers who will refuse or fail to give assistance to a health worker, frontliner, or persons suspected or infected with COVID-19 after obtaining clearance of coronavirus infection from health officials will also be liable.

The bill proposes a penalty of imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine of P50,000, or both, at the discretion of the court, for those convicted of committing discrimination. If the offender is a public officer, the maximum penalty shall be imposed.

In cases where a corporation, association, or partnership is involved, the proposed penalty shall be imposed upon the president, directors, manager, and managing partner for permitting or failing to prevent the commission of the discriminatory acts.

Alien offenders, meanwhile, shall be deported without the need of further proceedings in addition to the proposed penalties.

Revilla announced earlier this month that he tested positive for COVID-19.

He was rushed to the hospital after developing pneumonia but was discharged after his condition improved days later.

The senator, who has now been attending Senate proceedings virtually, said he is recovering from the disease. "I'm still alive and kicking," Revilla said in his Facebook post on Friday, August 28.