Hontiveros files bill to protect frontliners, COVID-19 patients vs discrimination
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday filed a bill seeking to protect health workers, frontliners, and patients from discrimination, harassment, and violence as the country grapples with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Senate Bill No. 1436 or the “Mandatory Protection of Health Workers, Frontliners and Patients Act” aims to address threats and acts of violence and harassment against health workers and patients in their respective communities.
“In the midst of this crisis, our health workers continue to work at the frontlines, risking their and their families’ health and well-being for the health and well-being of our community,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“Discrimination against health workers is a crime against public health,” she added.
The proposed measure seeks to amend Section 9 of Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, which Hontiveros also co-authored.
The measure prohibits “(a)ll forms of discrimination, or unfair or unjust treatment against a health worker, a frontliner, or any act that has the effect of actually causing or placing the same under a reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm, or impedes the conduct of duties, provided that of the same act is punishable under a different law, the law that imposes a higher penalty will apply.”
“All forms of physical, emotional and psychological violence, or the threat thereof of such violence, against an individual suspected of being, or confirmed to be, a carrier of the notifiable disease, whether the same is true or not” are also prohibited under the bill.
Hontiveros filed the measure following reports of health workers and patients being barred entry to groceries, banks, boarding houses and even into their own barangays.
Extreme cases have led to violent attacks on an ambulance driver in Quezon City and another health worker at a hospital in Sultan Kudarat, she noted.
“Ignorance and hostility will not protect us from the disease,” the senator said in the bill’s explanatory note.
“Now, more than ever, we need compassion and community. Now, more than ever, we need to protect our health workers and frontliners,” she added.
Once passed into law, violators of the measure will be fined from P20,000 to P 50,000, and will face jail time of from one to six months, Hontiveros said.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.