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Discrimination against frontliners now illegal in Cebu City

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - Reporter/CDN Digital | April 02,2020 - 07:47 PM

Free shuttle service for health frontliners in the battle against the spread of COVID-19. |OVP Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The discrimination against frontliners such as medical professionals, health workers, and other people working to fight against the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the ground can now be penalized in Cebu City.

The City Council approved an ordinance authored by Councilor David Tumulak that prohibits any form of discrimination against the frontliners, to ensure their safety as they continue to battle the spread of the virus.

Tumulak said the Department of Health (DOH) has received various reports regarding discrimination against the frontliners such as being refused basic services like public transport and laundry service, refused entry to supermarket or grocery stores, or being evicted from their lodging houses and apartments due to the fear of contamination.

“Instead of discrimination, fear and hate against the frontliners, they deserve to be treated as modern-day heroes as they put their lives at stake to respond to the public health crisis and thus need the support and protection of the government,” he said. 

In the passed ordinance frontliners are defined as medical and non-medical personnel, whether from the private or public sector, who are on the frontlines in provision of essential services in the face of public health crisis, such as:

  1. Private and government doctors, nurses and other medical personnel and health volunteers;
  2. Hospital workers, administrative staff, janitors and security personnel;
  3. National and local government officials and employees in the exercise of frontline functions;
  4. Members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcement personnel;
  5. Emergency responders like members of the Philippine Red Cross, Bureau of Fire Protection, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management office, and Barangay Health Emergency Response Team; and
  6. Employees and personnel of establishments providing needed services like funeral parlors, manufacturers of medical supplies, and those providing basic services.

These personnel cannot be denied access to establishments because of the nature of their work, kicked out of their apartments or lodging for being frontliners, and other forms of discrimination.

Her is how the ordinance defines discrimination against frontliners:

  1. Deny access to public programs and services otherwise available to the public;
  2. Refuse admission or expel from public markets, supermarkets, groceries, bakeshops and convenience stores;
  3. Refuse entry or eject from usual accommodation in any lodging house, apartment, motel, hotel, inn, dormitory and any other places of dwelling being rented out or offered to the public or for a fee or give inferior accommodation or services by reason of his/her work as frontliner;
  4. Deny access or admission to medical and other health services, health insurance, or give inferior accommodation or services by reason of his/her work as frontliner;
  5. Deny access to and/or use of private and public establishment, facilities, utilities, transportation services that are open to the general public;
  6. Utter or post online slanderous or abusive statements which incite discrimination against a frontliner;
  7. Subject any frontliner to any harassment or any threat of physical, mental and verbal violence, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior;
  8. Any other act of discrimination which demeans, impairs, mars, reduces or nullifies the enjoyment or exercise of a frontliner’s human and legal rights and basic freedoms in the social sphere and other spheres.

Any individual or establishment who violates the ordinance will be fined P1,000 for the first offense and/or imprisonment up to 30 days. For the second offense, the violator is fined P3,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 30 days.

While third or multiple offenders will be fined P30,000 and will face criminal charges in court.

The ordinance is now awaiting the signature of Mayor Edgardo Labella for it to be implemented. /rcg

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