imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

Discrimination

Late last month (March), when Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Luis Singson announced that a “highly probable” COVID carrier from San Vicente in Magsingal town has been quarantined, people in Magsingal and adjacent towns went OA.

OA stands for overacting, fellas.

That’s the price of knowing “too much” or knowing “too little.”

And the discrimination began.

Magsingal residents related stories of discrimination almost immediately.

A storeowner who sent some of her employees to buy stocks in a mall in an adjacent town said: “When the guard learned that my employees were from Magsingal, they were refused entry.”

A mother who went to this mall to buy her family’s weeklong grocery supply was denied entry because she was from Magsingal town.

A vegetable vendor from another town was told allegedly by the market master: “Starting tomorrow, all vegetable vendors here should not go and sell their vegetables in Magsingal town during their market days. You might be contaminated. We are just cautious because you might bring here the deadly virus as Magsingal already has ‘a highly probable’ COVID carrier PUI.”

The PUI is a bus driver who came from Manila. Prior to the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), he came home to his family in San Vicente, Magsingal. The following day, he started to incur fever, colds and cough which went worse through the days. He was diagnosed for bilateral pneumonia and was sent to the Gabriela Silang General Hospital in Vigan City as a “COVID patient.”

A week later, the result from the RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) came declaring that the Magsingal PUI was negative of the dreaded COVID virus.

This is just one type of discrimination experienced by some netizens in the province.

Metro Manila and Cebu health workers experience even worse, fellas.

Facebook user Adrian Franco shared that his sister who is a nurse at a hospital in Quezon City got kicked out from an apartment she previously rented due to potential contamination fears of her neighbors.

Another online user also shared on FB that her former student, now a doctor, similarly experienced being evicted by his landlord because he was handling COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Joey Lapena messaged Manila Mayor Isko Moreno: “Dear Mayor IskoMoreno: We are PGH doctors who closed our private clinics to serve the public. We lay our lives on the line to serve, possibly to die, so that others may live. Yet our landlord is charging rent despite clinic being closed. Please help us.”

Other online complaints, meanwhile, claimed that some frontliners were doused with water also due to infection fears.

“A condo admin in the city texted their tenants asking if there are frontliners living in the condo. May isang nurse tinapunan ng tubig ng pedicab driver,” a netizen said.

In Cebu, two motorcycle-riding men splashed a health worker with chlorine, while the same fate was suffered by another health worker. The attacks are believed to be out of fear that health workers are COVID-19 carriers. In other parts of the country, there was discrimination against health workers such as refusal to have them ride public utility vehicles.

The Department of Health recently warned the public against discriminating health workers after testimonies of doctors and nurses being kicked out of their residences for fear of being infected by the COVID virus.

I don’t know what kind of mentality these people have, fellas. Either they “know too much” or know “too little.”

If not for these frontliners, the virus could have reached our homes already.

As of this writing, there are now 17 doctors who died while in the frontline battling the infectious disease. Among these doctors are Philippine Pediatric Society president Sally Gatchalian, cardiologist and internist Raul Jara, anesthesiologist Gregorio Macasaet III and oncologist Rose Pulido.

Ang death rate ng mga doctor na namamatay (The death rate among the doctors) versus the total death is about 5%. It’s going to go up,” said PMA Commission on Legislation chairman Dr. Oscar Tinio Tinio.

He added, “Why do you have to let us die? When there are still ways that we can prevent it? Parang gera yan. Laban kami, pero huwag niyo kami pabayaan. (It’s like a war. We will fight, but don’t leave us without anything)”

In answer to the call for help, the city government of Manila came out with City Ordinance No. 8624 or the “Anti COVID-19 Discrimination Ordinance of 2020.” This law prohibits any form of harassment or discrimination against the above-mentioned persons as well as government forces in the frontlines. The ordinance was created following reports of people being evicted from their houses or rejected from establishments out of fear that they could infect others

Under the ordinance, people who will make false utterance, humiliate, harass, discriminate, and refuse to provide assistance to COVID-19 patients, those who are under monitoring and investigation, recovered patients, and frontline workers will be penalized. Penalties include a fine of P5,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.

President Rodrigo Duterte also ordered the police and military to watch out for anyone who will harass health workers. This came after a hospital personnel in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat was allegedly attacked by strangers by throwing bleach at his face.

“Ito namang isa, itong mga trabahante, mga doktor, mga nurse, health workers, attendants and all, eh hindi makauwi ng bahay, tinatapunan ninyo ng kung ano-anong mga chemicals na nakakasira ng katawan. Mas una silang mamatay kaysa ‘yung sa pasyente doon sa COVID,” he said.

He ordered the police to go after those who harass health workers.

“‘Yung mga tao na gumagawa ng ganun, I am ordering the police to go around. Huwag kayong mag-istambay diyan sa istasyon. Maglakad kayo, tandem, at maghanap kayo ng mga taong bastos. At kung mahuli mo, kung ano ‘yung binubuhos niya doon sa health worker o sa doktor, ibuhos mo rin sa kaniya para tabla. “Eh bakit? Ikaw lang ba ang marunong? ‘Di tikman mo rin ‘yung ginagawa mo and see if it would make you happy,” Duterte said.

The president is not kidding, fellas.

To all those harassing our health workers: If you were the ones handling the situation, tell me, what will you do to contain the situation without these health workers?

Aber?