Leyte town outlaws discrimination vs. health workers

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The local government of Kananga, Leyte will punish any person who attacks or harasses front-liners as the country battles the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Mayor Manuel Vicente Torres on Thursday signed an ordinance prohibiting any person from committing any act that causes stigma, disgrace, shame, humiliation, harassment, or any form of discrimination against health workers, volunteers, and all of the town’s front-liners.

The ordinance also protects Covid-19 patients, persons under monitoring (PUM), patients under investigation (PUI), and those who have recovered from the disease from any form of discrimination.

Any person found guilty of violating the ordinance may face imprisonment of not more than six months or a fine of not more than PHP2,500.

“There is a need for the municipality to bring normalcy and order amidst the crisis and protect its constituency from discrimination brought on by fear and panic of public,” Torres said.

He said there have been reports on front-liners, PUIs who have recovered, and PUMs being evicted or prevented from returning to their residences. Others were even doused with water and were refused services in eateries, stores, or transportation over fears of infection.

“This means that people are being labeled, stereotyped, separated, and experience loss of status and discrimination because of potential negative affiliation of the disease,” Torres said.

He noted that stigmatization could drive people to hide the illness to avoid discrimination or prevent them from seeking health care immediately.

“It is at these trying times, families who are affected by this pandemic suffer severe anxiety and social humiliation. Hence, it is the town’s policy to act as parens patria during this trying time by showing compassion, empathy, and tolerance towards its constituents,” Torres said.

Parens patria is a Latin term for “parent of his or her country” or the power of the state to act as guardian for those unable to care for themselves.

Meanwhile, the town remains free of the highly contagious Covid-19, according to the Department of Health. (PNA)