MANILA – The government has sought to punish those who will commit “discriminatory acts” against front-liners and other people who are either confirmed or suspected to be infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Saturday.
Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has approved a resolution, urging the local government units (LGUs) to impose appropriate sanctions against persons who discriminate health workers, Covid-19 patients, suspected carriers, and even overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
The IATF-EID made the call on LGUs, as it denounced “in strongest terms” any act that causes stigma, shame, harassment or discrimination against anyone amid the health crisis in the country.
“Local government units are enjoined to issue the necessary executive orders and/or enact ordinances prohibiting and penalizing these discriminatory acts,” Nograles said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.
Nograles said discriminatory acts include “coercion, libel, slander, physical injuries and the dishonor of contractual obligations such as contracts of lease or employment.”
He said violators will be slapped with criminal, civil, and administrative charges.
“Kinokondena ito ng IATF at binabalaan po namin na kakasuhan po namin ang mga taong mapapatunayang gumagawa nito (We condemn discrimination and we warn that we will file cases against those who will commit discriminatory acts),” Nograles said.
Nograles’ statement came following reports of harassment and violence against health workers and Covid-19 patients.
The new coronavirus has so far infected 3,018 people in the Philippines.
Nograles appealed to Filipinos to be supportive as the country battles with Covid-19.
“But we should not let our fear bring out the worst in us. Hindi po ito panahon para talikuran ang kapwa nating Pilipino. Ito ay panahon para magmalasakit, magtulungan, at magkaisa (It is not the time to abandon our fellow Filipinos. It is time for compassion, teamwork, and unity),” he said.
He also expressed appreciation to those who continue to stay positive during the health crisis.
“We are encouraged by the fact that these acts of discrimination are the exception, not the rule, and that most of our kababayans (countrymen) stand ready to help in our time of need,” Nograles said.
The city government of Manila now punishes the discrimination against health workers, persons with Covid-19, and those suspected to have acquired the infectious disease.
Under City Ordinance 8624 or the “Anti Covid-19 Discrimination Ordinance of 2020” signed by Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, violators will face a fine of PHP5,000 or imprisonment of up to six months or both. (PNA)