Hontiveros to file bill seeking to penalize violence vs health workers, frontliners
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday said she would be filing a bill penalizing acts of violence and discrimination against health workers and frontliners as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
In a statement, Hontiveros expressed concern about the recent spate of violent attacks against health workers due to COVID-19 fears including the case of an ambulance driver who was shot in Quezon province, and a health worker who was attacked in Sultan Kudarat.
“It’s alarming and unacceptable. We should work towards eliminating future violent incidents against health workers,” she said.
“All levels of government should work together to ensure that our frontliners can perform their noble duties, free from violence or discrimination by misinformed or hysterical individuals,” she added.
Hontiveros said the measure she plans to file once session resumes in May seeks to amend the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Concern Act or Republic Act. No. 11332.
“Hindi katanggap-tanggap na ang ating mga frontliners na lubos na nagsasakripisyo para iligtas ang buhay ng ating mga kababayan ay nagiging biktima pa ng diskriminasyon mula mismo sa kanilang mga komunidad,” she said.
(It is unacceptable that our frontliners, who have sacrificed so much to save the lives of those who need help, are becoming victims of discrimination in their communities).
The senator also joined the appeal on local government units (LGUs) to pass and implement measures to better protect health workers and other frontliners from discrimination and attacks.
“There is no health without health workers. They and other frontliners are heroes and should be treated with respect and compassion, not hate and suspicion,” she said.
Hontiveros recommended that LGUs pass ordinances against the incidence of health workers being denied entry into their communities or places of residence by neighbors, dormitory or apartment owners, and even barangay officials.
“An anti-discrimination ordinance for the protection of health workers and other frontliners in the time of COVID-19 should establish clear mechanisms for the reporting and redress of grievances,” she said.
“This measure should also penalize acts of discrimination in order to fully support our health workers and other frontliners in the conduct of their duty,” she added.
Anti-discrimination ordinances for health workers are already being implemented in the cities of Manila, Parañaque, and Iloilo, while similar ordinances are being deliberated by other LGUs, she noted.
She then urged the Department of Health (DOH) to invest in information campaigns that will dispel rumors and fake news regarding COVID-19, especially those that put the safety of health workers at risk.
The lawmaker, likewise, encouraged LGUs to follow recommendations set by the Department of Interior and Local Government to better protect frontliners, such as deploying more law enforcement agents in the vicinity of hospitals, providing free transport to health workers, and keeping streets leading to medical facilities well-lit.
“Hindi sapat ang ating pasasalamat sa ating mga frontliners kung hahayaan lang natin silang masaktan o maabuso,” Hontiveros said.
(Our gratitude towards our frontliners is not enough if we let them be hurt or abused).
“Let us repay the hard work and selflessness of Filipinos fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring that they are safe and welcome in our communities,” she added.
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