Lipa City council passes anti-coronavirus discrimination ordinance
BATANGAS, Philippines — The city council of Lipa has passed an ordinance that penalizes any form of discrimination against patients who have recovered from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and medical frontliners and health workers providing medical care and other services during the coronavirus outbreak.
“The Anti COVID-19 Discrimination Ordinance of 2020” prohibits any person from committing any act which causes stigma, disgrace, shame, humiliation, harassment or discriminating against a person infected or under investigation or monitoring due to COVID-19 virus.
The ordinance co-authored by Councilors Michael Morada, Beverly Luna, and Nicole Ronquillo was unanimously approved by the city council and signed by Lipa Mayor Eric Africa. It took effect on Monday, April 6.
Any person caught in violation of the ordinance shall be fined P5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or both at the discretion of the court. If the offender is a public officer, the maximum penalty shall be imposed.
The ordinance also provides that any public officer who refuses or fails to give assistance to a person or frontliners infected, under investigation or monitoring due to COVID-19, who intends to return to his place of residence or domicile, shall be equally liable.
The ordinance was drafted after the city government received reports that former patients and medical frontliners were being evicted from their residences even after having recovered from the illness.
The ordinance defined frontliners as "medical and non-medical personnel, whether from the private or public sector, such as doctors, nurses and health volunteers, hospital workers, administrative staff, janitors and security personnel.”
It also includes members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other law enforcement personnel, emergency responders like members of the Philippine Red Cross, Bureau of Fire Protection, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management office, and Barangay Health Emergency Response Team members.
Employees and personnel of establishments providing essential services like funeral parlors, manufacturers of medical supplies, and those providing basic services are likewise covered by the ordinance.
Morada said that these service and medical providers have been “prevented from returning to their residences, while some were even doused with water and were refused services in eateries or transportations over fears of infection.”
Some were shunned and false and inaccurate social media posts even included names of people alleged to have been infected with COVID-19, Morada added.
The Department of Health (DOH) has also received various reports of discrimination against frontliners being barred entry to supermarket or grocery stores, or being evicted from their lodging houses.
"Since the emergence of COVID-19, we have seen instances of public stigmatization among persons who have contracted the disease including PUls and PUMs, and the rise of harmful stereotypes. This means that people are being labelled, stereotyped, separated and/or experienced loss of status and discrimination because of a potential negative affiliation with the disease" he said.
"There is a need for the city to bring normalcy and order amidst the crisis, and protect its constituency from unjust discrimination brought on by fear and panic by the public", the ordinance said.
As of April 8, DOH CALABARZON has said that Lipa City has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Batangas with 14 patients and 2 deaths.
Batangas province has recorded 58 COVID-19 cases and 8 fatalities.
The DOH recorded 3,870 coronavirus cases nationwide as of Wednesday, April 8, with 182 deaths and 96 recoveries. – Rappler.com