MEETING WITH BPOs. Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, chair of Bacolod City Inter-Agency Task Force against Covid-19, attends the virtual meeting of city officials with executives and representatives of various business process outsourcing companies in the city on Monday night (Aug. 10, 2020). City officials told them to strictly enforce preventive measures and follow health protocols after an employee of a BPO company recently died of coronavirus disease. (Photo courtesy of Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran Facebook page)

BACOLOD CITY – Residents here were told not to discriminate against call center workers after an employee of a business process outsourcing (BPO) company recently died of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, chair of Bacolod City Inter-Agency Task Force against Covid-19, said on Tuesday any acts relative to discrimination can be penalized.

“With the recent Covid-19 case in one of the BPO firms here in the city, the task force appeals to the public to stop stigmatizing or discriminating against call center agents,” he added.

He said the BPO industry has become the lifeblood of the country’s economy, particularly of Bacolod.

Familiaran cited that any acts of discrimination, if the prevention to do a legitimate act is through threat, violence, or intimidation, is considered grave coercion.

Under Article 286 of the Revised Penal Code, it is punishable by the penalty of prision correccional or six months and one day to six years imprisonment, and a fine not exceeding PHP6,000.

If it causes emotional distress to a person, the crime is unjust vexation which, under Article 287-A of the Revised Penal Code is punishable by arresto mayor, or one day to 30 days imprisonment, and a fine ranging from PHP1,000 to PHP40,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.

“Let us help each other in fighting this virus,” he said.

In a virtual meeting on Monday night, city officials told the respective managements of BPO companies to strictly enforce preventive measures and follow health protocols.

Familiaran joined Mayor Evelio Leonardia and other city officials during the meeting.

He said even before the positive case was reported in one of the firms, the BPO companies were already furnished copies of the joint circular issued by the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry outlining the Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of Covid-19.

Familiaran pointed out that some BPO firms committed lapses in enforcing these protocols.

“The task force strongly encourages your company to promote the good health, safety, and protection of your employees in the call center industry,” he said. (PNA)