Isko thanks Guevarra, Vergeire for backing Manila ordinance vs COVID-19 discrimination

Isko Moreno
Mayor Isko Moreno Photo by JERRY S. TAN

MANILA Mayor Isko Moreno thanked Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire for expressing support to the city government’s decision to come up with an ordinance that prohibits discrimination against frontliners and COVID-19 patients and urging all other local government units (LGU) to enact their own measures with the same purpose.

“In behalf of the members of the Manila City Council headed by its presiding officer Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna, president pro tempore Ernesto Isip, Jr. and majority leader Joel Chua, I thank Secretary Guevarra and Usec Vergeire for pushing for the adoption of the same kind of measure in the entire country,  to ensure the protection of our health frontliners and COVID 19 patients against narrow-minded individuals in these very trying times,’ the mayor said.

Moreno said the city joins the national government in doing everything to protect the health workers who do not deserve any form of harassment amid risking their very own lives and that of their families in the performance of their duties to save lives and be at the frontline of the country’s fight against the coronavirus.

The mayor immediately announced the enactment of the said ordinance which he subsequently approved, in order to inform all Manilans that those who will subject health workers and COVID 19 patients to any form of discrimination will be considered as violators of a local law that carries a penalty of fine of up to P5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both, depending on the discretion of the court.  Following that, Vergeire and Guevarra both called on other local government units (LGUs) to follow suit.

“Isang magandang hakbang ito upang maiwasan natin ang hindi magandang pagtrato at paggawa ng krimen laban sa mga kababayan na nabibiktima ng sakit na ito at mga frontliners na lumalaban sa COVID-19,” Vergeire said.

“Hinihikayat ng ating kagawaran ang ibang local governments na magpatupad ng kagaya nitong ordinansa nawa’y bigyan ng angkop na pagpapahalaga at proteksiyon ang ating mga healthcare workers,” Vergeire added.

Guevarra meanwhile, said: ‘Whether in the form of an ordinance or an executive order, local government issuances presumably have a deterrent effect on the commission of discriminatory acts in their respective jurisdiction.’

The Justice Secretary also said that since Congress is not in session and national laws take much longer to enact, it would be best and expedient if LGUs would enact their own ordinances that would penalize all kinds of discrimination against healthcare workers. Moreno said that the backing of high-profile national government officials like Guevarra and Vergeire no less is such a welcome development as it will give even more teeth to the said ordinance.

The mayor last week initiated the passage of and approved Ordinance No. 8624, or the “Anti COVID-19 Discrimination Ordinance of 2020.”  This  prohibits any person from commiting any act which causes stigma, disgrace, shame, humiliation or any form of discrimination against a person infected,persons under monitoring (PUMs)  or persons under investigation (PUIs) due to the COVID 19 virus, including public and private doctors nurses, health workers, emergency personnel or other centers where these persons are being treated.

Among those that became the basis of the ordinance is a warning issued to the public by the DOH who discriminate against persons reported to have contracted COVID-19 as well as PUIs, PUMs including health workers and emergency workers who are among those in the frontlines of the battle against the rapidly spreading COVID-19.