(Eagle News) – The Philippine government appealed to Filipinos not to harass or discriminate against health care workers who are treating COVID-19 patients, saying that this is not the way that the people should act in this time of crisis.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that they are saddened to receive reports that health care workers, and even ordinary Filipinos who are dealing with the COVID-19 patients have been barred from entering villages or their condominiums and even attacked while traveling to and from the hospital.
He said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) condemned these acts, warning that those who would be found doing such acts of harassment and discrimination would be charged criminally.
Nograles, who also serves as the IATF spokesperson, said even patients who have already recovered were not being allowed back in their villages, subdivisions and condominiums.
They even received reports of nurses being prevented from entering their condominiums just because they have been treating COVID-19 patients.
An ambulance driver was even shot at on suspicion that he was transporting a COVID-19 patient, he said.
Nograles said that these are criminal acts that would be dealt with accordingly.
-LGUs urged to issue ordinances vs COVID-19 related discrimination-
He also called on all local government units to issue the necessary directives and orders that would penalize persons who will harass, attack and discriminate against frontliners, including health care workers, as well as COVID-19 suspected cases and recovered patients.
“Kinukundena ito ng IATF at binabalaan namin na kakasuhan po namin ang mga taong mapapatunayang gumagawa nito. Sana po tugunan ito ng LGU at mag-isyu kayo ng ordinansa na magpapataw ng parusa sa kanilang mga gawain” he said.
Nograles said this is not the time for such acts as health workers are the ones who would treat even those Filipinos doing such criminal acts when they get sick.
“Nakakalungkot po na kailangan pang sabihin ito,” he said. “May mga pinapalayas na nurse sa kanilang mga apartment kahit may kontrata sila.”
“Mga OFWs na tinatakwil dahil lang nanggaling sa ibang bansa,” he said.
Even persons under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring are being driven away from their homes, Nograles said in a virtual press briefing on Saturday, April 4, 2020.
“We should not let fear bring out the worst in us,” he appealed after receiving reports of such harassment and discrimination.
“Hindi po ito panahon para talikuran ang kapwa. Ito ang panahon ng pagmalalasakit, pagtutulungan at pagkakaisa,” Nograles said.
He said that these ways are not what Filipinos are known for.
“Kung sasaktan po natin ang ating mga health care workers, sino pa ang mag-aalaga sa atin. Hindi naman ganyan ang mga Pilipino. Hindi naman yan ang asal natin di ba?,” Nograles said.
He urged the nation to unite to fight the battle against COVID-19.
He said that this is not the time for divisions.
“Lahat tayo kasama dito. Together, we can beat COVID-19, and altogether we heal as one,” Nograles said.
But he said that they still believe that these acts of discrimination are few, and just exceptions and not the rule, and that most Filipinos are still helpful and compassionate.
Nograles then thanked all the establishments, institutions and individuals who are helping health care workers and COVID-19 suspected cases who are required to go on quarantine.