The City Council approved on third and final reading the anti- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) ordinance in the city that seeks to impose stiff penalties against those who discriminate COVID-19 patients and frontliners.
The ordinance authored by Vice Mayor Faustino A. Olowan and Councilors Betty Lourdes F. Tabanda, Fred L. Bagbagen and Philian Louise C. Weygan-Allan, states it will be a declared policy of the city government that the safety and well-being of persons who have been infected with COVID-19, persons who are under investigation (PUIs) or under monitoring (PUMs) for possible infection of the virus, as well as all health workers and frontliners caring for them, shall be ensured and protected at all times.
The ordinance will apply to all persons, whether residents or not, in all places, found within the territory of the city.
Under the proposed ordinance, the prohibited acts include any act of utterance, statement or deed that degrades, demeans, or belittles status and dignity of COVID-19 positive patients, PUIs and PUMs because of their health condition or health status and similar acts against health workers and frontliners on account of their duties on COVID-19; denying or refusing fully recovered COVID-19 patients, health workers and frontliners access to basic goods and services, accommodations or lodging; inflicting physical harms, or threatening to inflict physical harm on COVID-19 patients, PUIs, PUMs, health workers and frontliners and announcing, revealing, publishing, or posting in social media any information containing the name, address, health condition or whereabouts of COVID-19 patients, PUIs, PUMs or persons suspected to be any of the same, whether or not said information is verified by the Department of Health without the consent of the affected persons and that only the duly authorized officers may make any announcement.
Violators of pertinent provisions of the ordinance shall be meted a fine of P3,000 or imprisonment for a period not succeeding 30 days, or both at the discretion of the court for the first offense; a fine of P5,000 or imprisonment for a period not less than 30 days but not exceeding months or both at the discretion of the court for those who will divulge the identity of the persons involved without the authority of the concerned individuals.
The ordinance stipulates that if the offender is a public officer, the maximum penalty provided for violators shall be imposed.
According to the proposal, public officers and officials tasked to implement and enforce the measure who fail or refuse to implement or enforce the same shall be fined P5,000 or imprisonment of not more than 6 months at the discretion of the court without prejudice to the filling of administrative charges before the proper agency.
Upon the effectivity of the ordinance, the City Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO) and other concerned offices, including barangays, shall put signages in conspicuous places within the city to notify the public of the restrictions and sanctions imposed by the measure. Further, the Public Information Office shall likewise distribute the information on the contents of the ordinance to the barangays.
By Dexter A. See