Manila makes it illegal to discriminate against COVID-19 patients, frontliners; violators to be fined, jailed

The City of Manila passed the “Anti-Covid 19 Discrimination Ordinance of 2020”, making it illegal for any person to shame or discriminate against a confirmed COVID-19 patient, PUIs, PUMs, health workers, and other frontliners. Violators will be punished with P 5000 fine or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months, or both, at the court’s discretion.

(Eagle News) – The city government of Manila today (April 2) passed an ordinance making it illegal to discriminate against COVID-19 patients, whether confirmed or under investigation, as well as health workers and other frontliners.

“Ang ordinansang ito, na tinatawag bilang ”Anti-Covid 19 Discrimination Ordinance of 2020″, ay naglalayong ipagbawal ang anumang uri ng pamamahiya o diskriminasyon sa mga taong kumpirmadong positibo, maging sa mga Persons under Investigation (PUIs) at Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs) ng sakit na coronavirus disease o COVID-19″, the Manila Public Information Office said in an online advisory posted in its FB page.

(This ordinance, known as the ”Anti-Covid 19 Discrimination Ordinance of 2020″, aims to prohibit any act of shaming or discrimination against persons confirmed positive, or Persons under Investigation (PUIs) and Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs) for the coronavirus disease o COVID-19).

Under Ordinance No. 8624, or it shall be unlawful for any person to commit any act of or make utterances which may cause stigma, disgrace, shame, humiliation, harassment or otherwise discriminating against a person infected with COVID-19, or those  under investigation or monitoring for the disease.

It also prohibits discrimination against health workers, defined under the ordinance as “those who deliver care and services to the sick and ailing”, as well as frontliners, which include law enforcement authorities and service workers in food and medicine production, as well as those who work in banks, money transfer services, power, energy, telecommunication and other related facilities.

The ordinance also punishes the public dissemination of any sensitive information pertaining to a positive or suspected COVID-19 patient, whether through social media or any other means, as well as a public officer’s refusal or failure to give assistance to a confirmed patient, PUI/PUM, health worker, or frontliner.

Maximum penalty if violator is public officer

Violators will be fined with PhP 5,000 or imprisoned for a period not exceeding six months, or both, at the discretion of the court.  If the violator is a public officer, he or she will be meted with the maximum penalty.

In case the act of discrimination is committed by a corporation or any other juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed on the President, General Manager, Corporate Secretary or person with related interest in the juridical entity.

Urgent need to restore normalcy

In its preamble, the ordinance mentioned the various incidents of discrimination suffered by COVID-19 patients, including being evicted out of their homes, refused service in eateries and public transportation, and shunned by their own barangays and homes.

“[T]here is an urgent need to combat this pervasive stigmatization on the basis of one’s medical condition; There is a need for the City to bring normalcy and order amidst the crisis, and protect its constituency from unjust discrimination brough on by fear and panic by the public”, the preamble read.

(Eagle News Service)