Sen. Hontiveros files bill to protect health workers from discrimination, amid COVID-19 crisis



A bill seeking to protect health workers, frontliners, and patients from discrimination, harassment and violence, especially amidst the crisis brought by the novel coronavirus disease or COVID-19, was filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday.

Senate Bill No. 1436, otherwise known as the ‘Mandatory Protection of Health Workers, Frontliners and Patients Act,’ seeks to address threats and acts of violence and harassment experienced especially by health workers and patients in their respective communities.

“In the midst of this crisis, our health workers continue to work at the frontlines, risking their and their families’ health and well-being for the health and well-being of our community. Discrimination against health workers is a crime against public health,” Hontiveros said.

The proposed measure, an amendment to Section 9 of Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act which the Senator co-authored, covers all health workers, frontline employees and patients, regardless if they are confirmed or merely suspected to be carriers of any disease of public health concern.

The bill was filed after reports of health workers and patients being barred entry to groceries, banks, boarding houses and even into their own barangays. Hontiveros reported that extreme cases have led to death, citing attacks against an ambulance driver in Quezon City and another health worker at a hospital in Sultan Kudarat.

“Ignorance and hostility will not protect us from the disease. Now, more than ever, we need compassion and community. Now, more than ever, we need to protect our health workers and frontliners,” Hontiveros urged.

Once passed into law, violators of the measure will be fined P20,000 to P 50,000, and will face imprisonment of one to six months./Stacy Ang

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