Romualdez: No to discrimination

Martin Romualdez
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez: “We recognize each person’s fundamental right to be free from discrimination in this time of COVID-19 pandemic. Equality should be observed at all times.”

Majority Leader assures protection of OFWs, health frontliners, OFWs, others from prejudice

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Sunday assured protection for the Filipino people, including health workers and repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), against all forms of discrimination during the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic as the House of Representatives is scheduled to approve the Anti-Discrimination Bill this week on third and final reading.

“We recognize each person’s fundamental right to be free from discrimination in this time of COVID-19 pandemic. Equality should be observed at all times,” Romualdez, co-chairperson of the DCC along with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, stressed.

“This measure is scheduled for third and final reading approval this week,” said Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House committee on rules.

Last Wednesday, the Plenary of the House of Representatives approved House Bill (HB)  6817 or the “COVID-19-Related Anti-Discrimination Act” that penalizes various acts deemed discriminatory in light of the COVID-19 pandemic on second reading.

It was the Romualdez panel that endorsed the measure for Plenary approval last Tuesday.

“While boosting our country's economic potential, we also approved a bill that aims to protect the life and limb of our health workers now in the frontline of our war against COVID-19. We are moving to grant them full and inviolable protection against all forms of prejudice and discrimination as they continue to provide medical care, logistical, and service support to our people in this age of pandemic,” said Romualdez.

The Anti-Discrimination Bill prohibits physical, verbal, or psychological harassment against persons who are declared confirmed, suspect, probable, and recovered cases of COVID-19, healthcare workers and service providers.

It seeks to grant full, inviolable protection against prejudice and discrimination to those who have already suffered and recovered from COVID-19, those who carry the brunt providing medical care, logistical and service support.

It also seeks to recognize the dignity and heroism of the work of health workers, responders and service workers.

It also prohibits a public officer from refusing or neglecting to provide assistance to confirmed, suspected, and probable COVID-19 cases or any person suspected of having been exposed to and has recovered from COVID-19.

Under the bill, a person who commits harassment or assault shall, upon conviction, be penalized by imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than 10 years or a fine of not less than P200,000 but to more than P1,000,000.

In the case of violating the measure on the grounds of stigmatization, failure to give assistance, and unlawful refusal to honor valid contracts, it will be slapped with a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P500,000 and/or imprisonment of not less than six months but not more than five years.