MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday said it is beefing up its “legal offensive” against those who would cause injury or discriminate against patients and health workers who are the leading front-liners in the battle against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
PNP deputy chief for operations, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, said the police force’s legal team had already conducted legal research on all possible charges that could be filed against any person that would attack or bully the medical front-liners, and even those infected by the virus and their families.
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, through our (PNP chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa), has instructed us to protect and assist our health workers on the frontlines amid the reports of attacks and harassments against them. Let this serve as a warning to those heartless fools that we will not tolerate their misdeeds and we will make sure that they would pay if they dare to hurt or discriminate them,” Eleazar said in a statement sent to reporters.
Eleazar, also Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield commander, said all forms of harassment and discrimination such as physical assault, hurling stones on the houses and attempts to destroy any property of medical front-liners and Covid-19 patients would be covered by the provisions of the Revised Penal Code.
Earlier, two medical front-liners in Cebu and Cotabato were splashed with cleaning chemicals after they were suspected to be carrying the virus.
There were also reports that some residents bully the families of Covid-19 patients and even those classified as Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) and Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs).
Meanwhile, Eleazar said those who would bully medical front-liners and Covid-19 patients online would be held liable for violations of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law.
Owners of houses, condominiums or apartments who would try to evict medical front-liners could be held liable for grave coercion.
“We urge our medical front-liners and the relatives of the Covid-19 patients to immediately report to us any form of attack, harassment, and discrimination against them and we will assure you that we will immediately act on your complaints. Your complaints will be our priority,” he added.
The official JTF COVID Hotlines are 0998-849-0013 for Smart users and 0917-538-2495 for Globe users. The JTF CoViD Shield can also be reached through its email address: email@example.com.
Eleazar also appealed to local government units (LGUs) to pass an ordinance that would impose separate punishment for those who would attack and discriminate health workers and Covid-19 patients and their families.
He cited the LGUs of Manila and Cebu which promulgated their respective ordinances condemning and prohibiting discrimination against health workers.
Eleazar also reminded the public that the electronic inquest of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently in place against those who would violate the law amid the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine. (PNA)