MANILA - The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading a bill that penalizes discrimination against confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, with violators facing jail term of up to 10 years and heavy fines.
House Bill 6817 or COVID-19-Related Anti-Discrimination Act was approved in an ayes and nayes vote.
The anti-discrimination measure also covers frontline workers, migrant workers, and their family members.
The bill defines discrimination as “any act of unjust distinction, exclusion, or restriction which has the effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment, and exercise on an equal footing of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil, or any field of the public life of the person.”
Considered discriminatory practices are failure of a public official, health care worker and institution to give assistance to patients; harassment or assault, whether verbally, physically or psychologically; stigmatization; and refusing to honor any valid and existing contract due to COVID-19.
Violators face imprisonment of up to 10 years and fines of up to P1 million.
If the offender is a civil servant and found guilty by the Civil Service Commission, the violator shall be dismissed from service.
To date, the number of coronavirus infection in the Philippines has crossed 15,000. The tally includes 904 who died from COVID-19 while 3,506 have recovered.