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DISCRIMINATION OF COVID-19 PATIENTS, FRONTLINERS TO BE PENALIZED — NOGRALES

Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases spokesperson Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles issued a stern warning on those who discriminate against healthcare workers,  overseas Filipino workers, and suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients, saying in a press briefing over the weekend that these acts of discrimination will be dealt with under the law.

Quoting from IATF Resolution No. 19, Nograles said that the IATF “denounces in the strongest of terms acts of discrimination inflicted upon healthcare workers, OFWs, COVID-19 cases, whether confirmed or suspected, recovered or undergoing treatment, as well as Patients under Investigation and Persons under Monitoring.”

Nograles warned violators that cases would be filed against them

Nograles said that acts of discrimination “such as, but not limited to, coercion, libel, slander, physical injuries and the dishonor of contractual obligations such as contracts of lease or employment, shall be dealt with criminally, civilly, and/or administratively.”

“Local Government Units (LGUs) are enjoined to issue the necessary executive orders and/or enact ordinances prohibiting and penalizing these discriminatory acts,” added the Palace official.

Nograles said the IATF has been receiving multiple reports of health care workers, OFWs, COVID-19 patients, patients under monitoring (PUMs), and patients under investigation (PUIs) were being harassed and even physically harmed.

“May mga pinapalayas na nurse sa kanilang mga inuupahang apartment kahit may kontrata sila; mga recovered COVID-19 patient na ayaw papasukin sa village nya para makauwi sa sarili nyang bahay; mga OFWs na tinatakwil ng mga bayan dahil galing sila sa ibang bansa; may nakuha din akong balita hinggil sa isang driver ng ambulansya — binaril sa kamay dahil pinagsuspetsahang siya ay may mga pasahero na positive sa COVID-19,” lamented the lawyer.

(There are nurses being evicted from their apartments even if they have a valid lease; a recovered COVID-19 patient that has not been allowed to enter her village to return to her own home; OFWs that are rejected by the community because they just came home from other countries; we even got a report of an ambulance driver shot in the hand because he was suspected of transporting passengers that have COVID-19.)

“We should not let our fear bring out the worst in us.”

Nograles warned violators that cases would be filed against them and urged LGUs to address the problem by issuing ordinances punishing these acts of discrimination.

“Mga kababayan, lagi naming sinasabi: we are all in this together, sama-sama po tayo dito. Alam namin na marami sa inyo ay takot, di lang para sa sarili nyo kundi para sa inyong mga pamilya (we know you are afraid, not just for yourselves but for your families),” said Nograles.

“But we should not let our fear bring out the worst in us. Hindi po ito panahon para talikuran ang kapwa nating Pilipino––ito ay panahon para magmalasakit, magtulungan, at magkaisa.” (This is not the time to turn your back on our countrymen––this is a time for compassion, charity, and unity.)

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