MANILA – Threats, discrimination, or harm against front-liners, health workers, and patients suspected of having coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) are now prohibited in all 17 cities and municipalities in Metro Manila, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) said on Monday.

Cabinet Secretary and IATF Spokesperson Karlo Nograles bared that all local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila now have an anti-discrimination ordinance or executive order in place that penalizes all violators.

“I am happy to report that according to the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), all LGUs in Metro Manila now have an anti-discrimination ordinance or EO in place,” he said in a virtual presser on Monday.

Nograles urged the public to report threat, discrimination, or harm against front-liners, health workers, and patients to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) through the following hotline numbers: 09664723056 (Globe); 09617349450 (Smart); 09751539146 (regional number); (02) 852 40237 (landline).

Discriminatory acts include “coercion, libel, slander, physical injuries, and the dishonor of contractual obligations, such as contracts of lease or employment", Nograles said.

Violators will be slapped with criminal, civil, and administrative charges, he added.

Nograles, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of front-liners and health workers in providing service as the world grapples with the Covid-19 health crisis.

“Tuloy-tuloy pong gumagalaw ang mga sangay ng gobyerno upang tugunan ang pangangailangan ng taumbayan. Maraming salamat po sa mga LGU na kasangga ng gobyerno sa laban na ito, at maraming salamat uli sa ating mga health worker at front-liner na walang tigil na nagtatrabaho at nagsasakripisyo para sa ating lahat (The government agencies continue to attend to the needs of the public. Thank you to the LGUs who are partners of the government in this fight, and many thanks to health workers and front-liners who have been working non-stop and sacrificing so much for all of us),” he said.

On April 13, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police to arrest persons committing discriminatory acts against health workers on the front line against Covid-19.

He also encouraged health workers to seek assistance from the police in reaching their destination since mass transport is suspended under the quarantine measures.

No more window hours

Meanwhile, Nograles also welcomed the DILG’s memorandum to discontinue the use of limited window periods with regard to access to public and private establishments like wet markets, supermarkets, grocery stores, and pharmacies.

Quoting the DILG, Nograles said “the imposition of such restrictions further creates congestion of people who flock to these establishments at the same time, and poses risks to the implementation of social distancing. Scheduling and/or clustering of the communities and/or barangays who may be allowed to go out instead is highly encouraged”.

The DILG decided to discontinue the imposition of “narrow or limited time period” on the access of public and private establishments to prevent people from flocking and congesting facilities.

The whole of Luzon is currently under enhanced community quarantine until April 30 to further reduce the transmission of Covid-19.

As of April 19, there are a total of 6,250 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, 409 deaths, and 572 recoveries. (PNA)