MANILA - The national government's task force against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on Saturday urged localities to pass a measure that would penalize discrimination against frontliners, migrant workers and confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients.
In a virtual press briefing, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said they have received reports that health workers, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and coronavirus patients were being discriminated against, harassed and attacked.
"Kinokondena ito ng IATF at binabalaan po namin na kakasuhan po namin ang mga taong mapapatunayang gumagawa nito," he said.
(The IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force] condemns this and warned people proven to have committed these acts of appropriate charges.)
"Sana po tugunan ito ng LGU at sana po mag-issue sila ng ordinansa na magpapataw ng parusa sa ganitong mga gawain," added Nograles.
(I hope our LGUs [local government units] would address this and issue an ordinance that penalizes these acts.)
Some nurses were kicked out from their rented apartments while recovered coronavirus patients were refused entry to their villages, Nograles said.
Some OFWs were also refused to go home to their hometowns while an ambulance driver was shot and wounded after being suspected of ferrying COVID-19 patients, he added.
Acts of discrimination, not limited to coercion, libel, slander, physical injuries and the dishonor of contractual obligations such as contracts of lease or employment, shall be dealt with criminally and administratively, Nograles warned.
"We should not let our fear bring out the worst in us. Hindi po ito panahon para talikuran ang kapwa nating Pilipino -- ito ay panahon para magmalasakit, magtulungan, at magkaisa," he said.
(We should not let our fear bring out the worst in us. This is not the time to turn our backs to fellow Filipinos -- this is the time to show compassion, support and unity.)