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Danao penalizes discrimination of PUMs, COVID-19 patients, frontliners

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo May 20,2020 - 07:18 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Amid the stigma against patients suspected or confirmed to have coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a city in northern Cebu has passed an ordinance penalizing any form of “discrimination” against patients, their families and medical frontline workers.

Danao City, albeit not having confirmed cases of COVID-19 at present, passed City Ordinance no. 2020-16-013 which imposes fine of up to P5,000 and/or jail time of up to six months for those found guilty of discriminating or harassing its persons under monitoring or investigation (PUM and PUI), the medical workers and COVID-19 patients.

CHEERING THEM UP. A nurse draws a smiley face on the back of a fellow health worker’s protective suit before she enters a COVID-19 ward at the Philippine General Hospital. | Inquirer photo

The city ordinance imposes the maximum penalty for violators who are in public office.

Michelle Mondigo of the city’s Public Information Office said that although there are no official documented reports of discrimination, a number of their residents, mostly relatives of PUMs or health workers, have already sought the help of their office after experiencing unruly treatment.

Mondigo said that with the passage of the ordinance, a copy of which was already published in a local daily earlier this week, the city hopes that the discrimination against the PUMs and the health workers will already stop.

READ: The psychology of COVID-19 discrimination

READ: Lapu proposes city ordinance to protect frontliners, Covid-19 patients from discrimination

Among those prohibited under the ordinance is undue denial of public and private services, including housing and employment, for persons diagnosed with the viral respiratory infection.

“Ubos sa section 5 sa maong ordinansa, gidili ang tanang klasi sa diskriminasyon o harassment ngadto sa mga frontliner, mgatawo nga gidudahan nga may COVID-19 (mapa PUM man o PUI) ug mga tawo nga nagpositibo na niini,” the city government said.

The ordinance prohibits the publication of a patients personal information without his consent and making speeches intended to shame a person suspected or confirmed patient as well as conducting unwarranted “malicious” profiling of persons in relation to COVID-19.

“Engaging in acts intended to annoy, insult, demean, bully, offend, threaten, intimidate, alarm or create hostility or distressing environment or put them in fear of their society [is prohibited],” the ordinance reads.

“Ang COVID-19 ang atong kontra ha, dili ang usag-usa (Our enemy is COVID-19, not one another),” the city government said in a post on its Facebook page.

The ordinance also prohibits funeral parlors from declining to provide services to a deceased who was considered a PUM or PUI. /bmjo

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