The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) condemned the attacks against health workers in the country and assured their protection amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Our countrymen in the medical profession are our front-liners in the war against Covid-19. Just like our police officers, soldiers and other men and women in uniform, they wage a lonely but relentless battle against this disease everyday 24/7 to keep our nation safe. The last thing they need right now is discrimination when all they do is save lives and protect each and every one of us from an enemy we cannot see,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement sent to reporters.
His remarks came after a health worker was splattered with bleach by a group in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat and other reports of harassment against medical personnel in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
He directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to go after the perpetrators of the Sultan Kudarat attack and bring them to justice as soon as possible.
“I also ordered the PNP to deploy police officers in the vicinity of key hospitals and medical centers for increased police visibility and to ensure the safety and security of our health workers from criminal elements especially during unholy hours,” he said.
Año also urged local chief executives to undertake measures, such as providing free transport and lighting up the streets leading to medical facilities, to ensure that the medical health workers and other front-liners in their jurisdiction are protected and safe as they travel to and from hospitals and clinics.
“During this health emergency crisis, the least that we can do is to make sure that our health front-liners are safe and protected as they continue to take care of the sick and save lives as we all confront the Covid-19 global pandemic,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, PNP chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa directed all police units to provide every possible assistance and security to medical staff and health workers.
“At this time of national health emergency, the PNP stands doubly committed to apply the full might of the law against any person who will lay hands on our health workers, thus, we shall do whatever it takes to protect them from crime, violence, and any form of oppression and discrimination,” he said in a press statement.
While the government has provided 16 daily bus routes around Metro Manila and suburbs to shuttle health workers to and from their duty stations, Gamboa said he ordered PNP personnel manning quarantine control stations to extend utmost assistance to them, to include escorting them to their assigned hospitals, if necessary
“This is a duty that we in the police service must extend to our fellow front-liners who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Filipino people in this global battle against the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.
Pursuant to the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), police units manning quarantine control points must guarantee safe and unimpeded passage of food products, basic and essential commodities and authorized personnel categorized in the medical, agricultural, industrial and utilities sectors, subject to existing biosafety and quarantine protocols.
To ensure uniform implementation of IATF-EID guidelines, all checkpoints at the barangay level must be coordinated with the Municipal Joint Task Group and directly supervised by the local chief of police or unit commander.
Gamboa added that during the first three weeks of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, the PNP have filed appropriate charges against 593 persons arrested for hoarding, profiteering and price manipulation of prices of consumer goods, medical supplies and other commodities.
“To help mitigate the effects of this national emergency to the local economy and domestic consumer market, the PNP will step up police operations in support of DTI to strictly enforce the Price Act and pertinent provisions of the Bayanihan Act of 2020 even as I urge traders, retailers and businessmen to heed President Duterte’s call ‘Hindi ngayon ang panahon para kumita lalo na ang pagsasamantala’ (This is not the time for profiteering or worse, exploitation),” he added. (PNA)