Briones: Social stigma

Publio J. Briones III

AND so it has come to this?

People are being targeted because they are suspected of having the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) or having been in close contact with Covid-19-positive patients, patients under investigation (PUIs) or persons under monitoring (PUMs).

We are up against an invisible enemy that indiscriminately infects and kills and some people think they are doing the heroic thing by going after frontliners and other innocent persons because they believe they are protecting their family and community? Seriously.

Take what happened in the southern town of Argao, for instance.

On Thursday, April 2, 2020, two men who happened to be PUMs were shot dead in Barangay Alambijud.

The victims were Renato Sotto Evangelista, a resident of Barangay Labogon, Mandaue City, and Dexter Romano, a native of Bohol. Both men left for Argao from Mandaue where two cases of Covid-19 were recorded. Apparently, they wanted to be with their relatives in Argao during the province-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Police are still investigation the shooting. Cebu Provincial Police Office Director Col. Roderick Mariano said they are eying personal grudge as a possible motive since the gunman only fired at Evangelista and Romano even though there were others with them when the incident happened. So maybe it was just a coincidence that the victims were PUMs.

Maybe.

But it wouldn’t be the first case of stigma related to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis in the country rearing its ugly head and resulting in violence.

The Philippine National Police has been forced to assist health workers following reports of attacks and discrimination like the case of the hospital worker in Sultan Kudarat who was doused with bleach while on his way to work or the male nurse in Cebu City who was splashed with chlorine by two unidentified men on board a motorcycle.

In the National Capital Region, police escort health workers from the checkpoint to their assigned hospitals to ensure their safety. Which I find really ironic, considering these are the same people who risk their lives every day to take care of positive patients, PUIs and PUMs.

President Rodrigo Duterte has already ordered the police to hunt down the perpetrators and to take revenge.

But for medical frontliners, it’s not only harassment that they have to watch out for. Some have been forcibly evicted from their homes or barred from entering their houses because their neighbors and “friends” were threatened by their presence.

Well how convenient? So what happens when these same people get sick? I say list down their names and disseminate these in all the hospitals so the hospitals can shut their doors in their faces when they come a-knockin’.

That sounds about fair, doesn’t it?