The House Defeat COVID-19 committee passed a bill that would penalize with jail time of up to 10 years those who will assault frontliners, coronavirus cases, and other individuals affected by the pandemic.
On Tuesday, May 26, the panel approved the still-unnumbered substitute measure prohibiting the discrimination of the following individuals:
The bill would impose certain punishments for discriminatory practices against them, including failure to give assistance, harassment or assault, stigmatization, and unlawful refusal to honor valid and existing contracts.
The initial proposal was that violators would be imprisoned for 6 months up to 5 years or would be fined between P50,000 and P500,000.
But during the hearing, Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez proposed to impose stiffer punishment on people found guilty of harassment or assault. He proposed to raise the period of imprisonment between a year and 10 years and to increase the fine from P200,000 up to P1 million.
No other lawmaker opposed Rodriguez's proposed amendment, so the panel adopted the stricter penalties.
The measure is expected to be sponsored during the House plenary session on Tuesday afternoon for its 2nd reading approval. It will have to go through 3rd and final reading before hurdling the lower chamber.
The bill will then need to go through 3 more readings in the Senate before President Rodrigo Duterte may sign it into law.
The anti-discrimination House bill is co-authored by the following:
Several frontliners and COVID-19 cases have been experiencing discrimination in their communities in the past weeks. A health safety officer from the Philippine General Hospital and his sons were recently forced by their neighbors to leave their Quezon City home.
The Duterte government threatened to take legal action against those who will be discriminating against frontliners fighting COVID-19, which has infected over 14,000 people in the country as of Monday, May 25.
On Tuesday, the House Defeat COVID-19 panel also approved a P1.3-trillion stimulus package and a bill providing aid to banks to help cushion the effects of the health crisis on the economy. – Rappler.com