By Janica Anne L. de la Pena

SP member Jose Miguel M. Miraflores, member of the Committee on Health and Social Services, proposes an Ordinance punishing those who would discriminate against persons found positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), individuals under monitoring or investigation, and frontliners fighting the disease.

The Ordinance aims to prevent discrimination against health workers and frontliners, and patients. It prohibits any act that causes stigma, disgrace, shame, humiliation, harassment or discrimination against COVID-19 positive patients, persons under investigation (PUI) and persons under monitoring (PUM), health workers and frontliners.

“In this time of crisis, fear and panic succumbs among our citizens. Worst, it diminishes humanity and compassion for victims and frontliners. In our province, several healthcare workers and frontliners have experienced discrimination in terms of housing, purchasing, and laundry amidst their fight against the COVID-19 virus. During these difficult times, they are essential in our fight against the pandemic so we need to step up and practice good citizenship”, said Miraflores.

If enacted, violators would be fined P5,000 or face imprisonment of up to six months, or both depending on the discretion of the court.

The proposed ordinance is in response to the request of the Department of Health (DOH) urging local government units to implement anti-discrimination ordinances to protect coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients and frontliners.

During a virtual briefing of DOH held on April 4, 2020, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire cited as an example the Manila City government’s Ordinance No. 8624 or the Anti-COVID-19 Discrimination Ordinance of 2020.

“Hinihikayat po ng ating kagawaran ang iba pang local governments na magpatupad ng kagaya nitong ordinansa. Nawa’y bigyan natin ng angkop na pagpapahaalaga at proteksyon ang ating health care workers,” Vergeire said.

The said Ordinance was proposed during the 39th Regular Session of the 18th Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan held on April 6, 2020, at the SP Session Hall under Other Matters.
The said proposed ordinance was referred to the joint committees of the Committee on Laws, Rules, and Ordinances and the Committee on Health and Social Services.

The schedule for the committee hearing is yet to be arranged.