Lapu proposes city ordinance to protect frontliners, Covid-19 patients from discrimination
CEBU CITY, Philippines— The Lapu-Lapu City council has drafted a city ordinance aimed at protecting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-positive individuals, suspected COVID-case individuals, and frontliners in the city from discrimination during this time of health crisis.
Lapu-Lapu councilors Junrey Gestopa and Rex Mangubat revealed this during the first online public hearing of the city on Tuesday morning, May 19, 2020.
Gestopa stated that the city decided to make a stand by proposing an anti-discrimination city ordinance following reports gathered by the Department of Health regarding the discrimination of frontliners.
“Taliwa ni ining recent public crisis nga gi dala ni ining Covid-19 virus, we face a new form of discrimination sa atong katilingban, targeting the frontliners or the people who are in the frontline in the fight against the spread of this virus, including our health professionals and other medical staff personnel as well as atoang mga non-medical frontliners,” said Gestopa.
(Amid the recent public crisis brought about by the Covid-19 virus, we face a new form of discrimination in our midst, targeting the frontliners or the people who are in the frontline in the fight against the spread of this virus, including our health professionals and other medical staff personnel as well as to our non-medical frontliners.)
The public hearing was supposed to tackle two important topics, the anti-discrimination ordinance and the ordinance mandating the conduct of the rapid anti-body testing for all business establishments operating in the city.
But according to Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan’s Facebook post, they would have to hold the topic on the rapid testing due to some guidelines given by the Department of Health.
During the online public hearing, Gestopa stated the importance of the anti-discrimination ordinance in helping those who are working in the fight against the disease.
He said there are reports that frontliners are being refused entry in some grocery stors, are not able to get a ride on provided transportation of the city, and are even declined from laundry services in the fear that others may get contaminated by the virus.
The ordinance is titled: An ordinance prohibiting any person from committing any act which causes stigma, disgrace, shame, humiliation, harassment, or otherwise discriminating a person infected, suspected Covid case, probable Covid cases, or any member of their family due to Covid-19, as well as public and private doctors, health workers and emergency personnel and volunteers, service workers who are assigned to hospitals or other centers where a person is being treated and other frontliners and providing penalties therefor.
The ordinance states that people who will be discriminating frontliners of any kind, people who have been tested or suspected to be Covid-positive will be facing corresponding penalties.
In the first offense, the penalty will be a fine of P1,000 or imprisonment of a maximum period of 30 days. For the second offense, the fine is P3,000 or an imprisonment of a maximum period of 60 days. A fine of P 5,000 or imprisonment of 90 days will be given for third-time offenders.
If by any chance a public official will violate this ordinance the official will be facing the maximum penalty.
Discrimination is not just contained to the physical aspect but even those are discriminating via social media will be dealt with accordingly.
Gestopa said this ordinance will take effect once it is approved by the city council during its next session on Thursday. /bmjo
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