Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya—The provincial board here has passed an ordinance prohibiting forms of discrimination and harassment among COVID-19 patients, suspects, their contacts, and including frontline medical and health volunteers and workers.
Board Member Flodemonte Gerdan, chairman of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s committee on health, said the ordinance seeks to protect various COVID-19-affected individuals in the province.
“This ordinance regulates our humanitarian treatment to our fellow Novo Vizcayanos who are suffering from the infection and others who may have recovered, probable suspects and our frontline health and medical workers who are dealing with this pandemic,” he said.
Gerdan said the ordinance was made in response to numerous complaints from various frontline health workers and families and relatives of COVID-19 patients and suspects in the province.
Governor Carlos Padilla signed the ordinance on April 28, 2020.
It defined discrimination against “individuals or groups creating, perpetrating or spreading false information regarding the COVID-19 crisis on social media and other platforms, such as information having no valid or beneficial effect on the population and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear or confusion and those participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the current crisis situation to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent mails or other similar acts.”
It also defined as any form of harassment against frontliners or COVID-19 patients and/or their relatives be it confirmed, suspect, probable, Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) OR Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs).
The ordinance also points to all forms of issuing derogatory statements that are against the subject in relation to COVID pandemic incidents.
The ordinance, which was the first local law passed in the province to protect all COVID-19 stakeholders prohibits the following: acts or utterances that cause or tend to cause dishonor, disgrace, shame, humiliation, harassment, or ridicule which includes but not limited to coercion, libel, slander or physical injury/ies against healthcare workers, frontliners, OFWs, COVID-19 patients whether confirmed or suspected, recovered or undergoing treatment as well as PUIs and PUMs.
It also penalizes a person refusing to accept or allow in the community, healthcare workers or frontliners who intend to return to their place of residence or domicile, refusing to accept recovered COVID-19 patients as well as PUMs and PUIs or those who are considered suspect or probable, to return to their respective homes or residences after obtaining the necessary clearance from proper health official/officer, discriminating against or harassing OFWs who have returned to their respective homes after securing the required clearance and evicting healthcare workers, frontliners, OFWs, COVID-19 patients, whether confirmed, suspected or probable, recovered or undergoing treatment, as well as PUIs and PUMs from their rented apartments or boarding houses.
Violators of the ordinance face a fine of P5,000 or imprisonment of not exceeding one year or both at the discretion of the court.