Senator Bato dela Rosa is seeking to ensure the safety of the Filipino people at all times as well as to protect medical workers, law enforcers and other security personnel while performing their duties in times of crises.

In his Senate Bill No. 1533 or “An Act Amending Republic Act No. 11332, Otherwise Known As The Mandatory Reporting Of Notifiable Diseases And Health Of Public Health Concern Act, And For Other Purposes” filed on May 18, 2020, Dela Rosa, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, stated the need to amend R.A. No. 11332 which was enacted into law on April 26, 2019 to include stricter measures based on the experiences that the country is now facing with the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)pandemic.

“The law was not able to anticipate the response of the people with regard to the implementation of disease prevention and control systems.”

The legislator pointed out in his explanatory note that: “while the said measure keeps up with emerging diseases and health events, it was not able to anticipate the response of the people with regard to the implementation of disease prevention and control systems.”

Unfortunately, Dela Rosa said included in these experiences are the reported cases of assault, harassment and discrimination directed towards health care workers and law enforcement personnel. The same discrimination is being directed at suspect and confirmed COVID-19 patients as well, added Dela Rosa.

The senator’s SB No. 1533 seeks to prevent any of this by including in the prohibited acts: “any act that causes infliction of stigma, unfair treatment, refusal of access to goods and services, harassment or any form of discrimination against health workers and law enforcement personnel and persons identified or suspected to be infected of notifiable disease”.

“Given the apparent travel restrictions and limitations on freedom of movement, many were caught violating the ‘stay at home advisory’.”

Dela Rosa also highlighted how Filipinos responded to the quarantine protocols.

“During the ECQ, everyone was advised to stay at home… Given the apparent travel restrictions and limitations on freedom of movement, many were caught violating the ‘stay at home advisory’. As of April 21, 2020, there are 136,517 ECQ violators,” he said.

To address this, Dela Rosa seeks to include the following as prohibited acts: violation of any rules and regulations promulgated by the national government, concerned government agencies and local government units, in response to the declared epidemic or public health emergency.

Dela Rosa also said that around 20% of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country are health care workers. Some of these health workers contracted the coronavirus disease after infected patients lied about their health conditions.

With this, Dela Rosa is moving to revise the second item under the present law’s prohibited acts, to read from: “tampering of records or intentionally providing misinformation,” to: “willfully providing inaccurate, false or misleading information by person subject of the mandatory reporting as defined in this act.”

Dela Rosa believes that while nobody wishes for another COVID-19 pandemic or any similar event of such magnitude to again happen, there is a need to anticipate such events and be prepared to ensure the safety of all Filipinos.

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