Privacy commission: Health workers, PUIs not the enemy

AP File

THE National Privacy Commission on Thursday, April 2, condemned the attacks on healthcare workers and the publication of personal data of patients under investigation (PUI) and persons under monitoring (PUM) as they battle against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“Our health workers, as well as the PUIs and PUMs under their watch, are not the enemy. They are on the battlefront of the public health emergency, doing their part to contain the crisis and deserving the support and compassion from the rest of us,” Privacy Commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro said in a statement.

“Their human rights must be respected in these times of great social and economic distress. They have the right to be left in peace and their personal information protected against being disseminated without their consent,” he added.

Liboro said the attacks on health workers by “social vigilantes” are unacceptable.

“Their perpetrators must be penalized in accordance with law,” he added.

The commission describes social vigilantes as those who take it upon themselves to enforce their views of what they consider appropriate beliefs and behavior.

These unidentified vigilantes have doused chemicals on health workers, expelled them from boarding houses or refused them lodging, and even barred them from taking tricycles on their way to work or home.

The commission also denounced those who publicize the personal data of PUIs and PUMs.

This has exposed the PUIs and PUMs to “danger even graver than the novel coronavirus itself – that of maltreatment, online bullying and physical violence from individuals who may be driven by desperation and fear,” Liboro said.

“Once personal information of health workers, PUIs and PUMs is divulged, targeting, doxing and stigmatization are not far behind,” he added.

On Wednesday, April 1, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año reminded the public not to block PUIs and PUMs.

"Hindi pupuwede 'yung haharangan mo. E di lalong maraming nalagay sa panganib diyan dahil pinabayaan mo lang na nasa labas 'yung isang positive," Año said.

"Ang polisiya natin diyan, kapag may nagpositive na diyan, meron na tayong desk ng barangay... Kung 'yung bahay niya naman ay okay at puwede siyang mag-quarantine, doon siya. Kung hindi naman, doon siya sa barangay isolation unit o kaya doon sa municipal isolation," he added.

Año made the statement after Covid-19 patients were reportedly prevented by their neighbors from returning home to undergo self-quarantine.

He said that these patients who either manifested mild symptoms of the disease or do not have any symptoms at all are advised to just undergo home quarantine.

They will be under close monitoring by the Department of Health (DOH) or the barangay health center. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo/SunStar Philippines)


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