Anti-discrimination law amended to protect COVID-19 frontliners

By Emme Rose Santiagudo

The Sangguniang Panlungsod has moved for the strict implementation of the “Anti-Discrimination Ordinance” following reports of discrimination of medical personnel in a hospital in Iloilo City.

During its regular session Tuesday, Councilor Candice Tupas proposed a resolution calling for the strict implementation of the ordinance amid reports of medical workers being rejected by their own boarding houses.

A sari-sari store recently became controversial due to its signage addressed to all medical staff of Medical City Iloilo which said, “Pasensya lang kamo anay di pwede magbakal sa tiyangge kag wala transactions.”

Medical City Iloilo has confirmed that the second positive COVID-19 case in Western Visayas is in their care.

The hospital also assured that their healthcare staffers have been judicious on protective protocols in handling COVID-19 patients.

Regulation Ordinance No. 2018-090 or the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance of the city is an ordinance declaring unlawful acts and conduct of discrimination based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, descent, nation or ethnic origin, and religious affiliations or beliefs.

The SP also amended the ordinance to include “profession” as the basis for the conduct of discrimination.

Under the ordinance, a discrimination is committed when a person withholds from, excludes, restricts curtails or otherwise impairs the recognition and/or exercise of a right or basic freedom of another, to which others similarly situated are extended of which they are allowed to enjoy or exercise in employment, education, shelter, and delivery of basic goods and services.

Acts of discrimination which are punishable include refusing employment to a job applicant or imposing onerous or additional terms or conditions; refusing or failing to accept any person for admission as a student in any public or private educational or vocational institution; refusing to provide goods or services and/or imposing onerous terms or conditions all on the basis or by reason of sex, gender identity, race, color of skin, descent, national or ethnic origin, religious beliefs and profession.

Refusing or failing to allow any person based on one’s sex, gender identity, race, color of skin, descent, national or ethnic origin, religious beliefs and profession to avail of accommodation in a house, apartment, condominium, bar, restaurants, malls, and movie houses are also considered as acts of discrimination.

Any person liable under the ordinance shall be punished by admonition and a fine of P1,000 on the first offense, P2,000 and imprisonment for a period of not more than 10 days at the discretion of the court on the second offense and P5,000 fine and 15 days of imprisonment on the third offense.