Pampanga prohibits discrimination vs COVID-19 patients, health workers

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga (PIA) — Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Pampanga passed an ordinance prohibiting any act of discrimination against those confirmed or who might be infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as well as health workers and other frontliners.

Governor Dennis Pineda said Ordinance No. 757, series of 2020 declares that the province’s response to COVID 19 is anchored on the principle of human rights upholding human dignity, and that the right to health includes the right to have access to information and services free from violence, harassment and discrimination. 

Based on the ordinance co-sponsored by all board members, discriminatory acts include Restriction on travel and habitation; Restriction on shelter and forced ejectment; Restriction from employment and unequal benefits; Forcible layoff or early retirement; Expulsion or refusal of admission in learning institutions; Banning and eviction in business establishments and Denial of burial services. 

To reduce stigma, the ordinance prohibits unauthorized disclosure of confidential information of COVID 19 patients and those who might be infected with it. 

The disclosure is authorized when made pursuant to Republic Act No. 11332 otherwise known as Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act and when made pursuant to a lawful court order and all other disclosures are unauthorized. 

The ordinance made clear that it is unlawful for any person or entity to disclose on any form of mass media, including, but not limited to print, broadcast, radio, television, or social media, the name, image, address or any information that would identify persons confirmed to be or might be infected with COVID-19 including any information that could directly ascertain their identification. 

The provincial board explained that media disclosure shall be allowed if the person subject of the information gives prior consent; provided further, that this provision shall not cover reports from the government specifying the general location of persons confirmed to be positive with COVID-19.

Under the ordinance, those who discriminate against COVID-19 patients, health workers and frontliners and those who violate confidentiality will pay a fine of up to PhP5,000 and face jail time of not more one year without prejudice to the filing of an action to suspend or revoke his or her professional license in the appropriate administrative proceeding.

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