MANILA, Philippines – While health workers are deemed heroes for their service in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, they face a different struggle outside their workplace – discrimination.
Following reports of health workers who have been shunned by their landlords for the risks that come with their jobs, the Quezon City government and the private sector teamed up to provide health workers with free lodging. (READ: Braving a pandemic: Frontliners battle fear to confront the novel coronavirus)
Earlier, Hotel Sogo branches in Quezon City collectively provided space for at least 350 health workers, equivalent to 228 rooms. On Thursday, March 26, the city government announced a partnership with Rainbow Place Dormitory in Barangay Tandang Sora for an additional 80 rooms.
Mona Yap, Quezon City Small Business Cooperatives Development Promotions Office head, facilitated the agreement between the city government and Rainbow Place Dormitory.
In a phone interview with Rappler, Yap explained that while the city government earlier stated that Hotel Sogo provided 350 rooms, it turned out that some rooms were not solo occupancy so it accounted for 350 people instead.
She said that while the arrangements are designed to be one-person-per-room, those who work in admissions, support, or administration may share rooms.
Overall, there are 308 rooms provided for health workers. As of 2018, there were a total of 374 government health workers in Quezon City.
'Nowhere to go'
Yap said some health workers were being shut out of their condominiums and boarding houses because they of their frontliner status, putting them at risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
"We're receiving a lot of reports that most of them have nowhere to go since some of their landlords have been shutting them out of their places kasi nga (because) they're frontliners," Yap said.
Yap added those who live outside Metro Manila or far from Quezon City may also use these rooms. The dormitory also comes with a free shuttle service that will transport health workers to the hospitals that they work in, Yap said.
Health workers may live in these rooms for free during the lockdown period, as long as they present proof of their occupation. These establishments have the following vacancies as of posting:
Hotel Sogo's Novaliches branch already reached full occupancy as of Thursday, March 26.
Health workers who wish to avail of these free rooms may contact the city government through Zia Abit at 09423593112 or Cherry Divino at 09062632285.
The Department of Health's coronavirus tracker indicated Quezon City has the highest number of coronavirus cases in any local government unit as of Thursday, March 26. According to a bulletin released by the city government on Thursday, Quezon City had 87 cases as of Wednesday, March 25. It has a population of almost 3 million.
Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.