INTERIOR Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday said he has directed the PNP to make sure the persons who assaulted health workers “will face justice at the soonest possible time.”
“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,” Año said as he expressed indignation over the reported attacks in Cebu City and Sultan Kudarat.
“Our countrymen in the medical profession are our frontliners 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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
Año also urged local government chief executives to provide free transportation to health workers in their areas and to light up streets leading to medical facilities “to ensure that the medical health workers and other frontliners 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 frontliners 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,” said Año.
PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said he has directed all police units “to provide every possible assistance and security to medical staff and health workers following the two separate incidents of violent attacks in Cebu and Sultan Kudarat in recent days.”
On Friday in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat, a group of men poured bleach on Ritchie Estabillo, a janitor at the St. Louis Hospital where a COVID-19 patient has died. In Cebu City, two men splashed chlorine on a male nurse who was on his way to work also on Friday in Barangay Labangon. Fortunately, the nurse was hit only on the leg.
There are also reports that medical workers are being sent away from their boarding houses due to fears they are virus carriers, and are being told by barangay officials not to go home.
“We shall do whatever it takes to protect them from crime, violence, and any form of oppression and discrimination,” said Gamboa.
Gamboa also vowed to apply the full force of the law against people who will be caught harming health workers.
Gamboa said the government has provided 16 daily bus routes in Metro Manila and suburbs to shuttle health workers to and from their workplace during the implementation of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
“For added peace of mind of our health workers, PNP personnel manning quarantine control stations are under instructions to extend utmost assistance to them, to include escorting them to their assigned hospitals, if need be,” said Gamboa.