We are now on Week 3 of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”). Everybody is directed to just stay home, until April 14, 2020. Except for our beloved frontliners and other brothers and sisters who brave the risks everyday brought about by the Coronavirus Disease (“COVID-19”), we are expected to heed the government call to just stay home and help its efforts in flattening the curve.
Staying home 24/7 entails unhampered access to the internet, endless interaction in social media and unlimited information from various sources, legitimate or not.
I am writing this today to remind you that every move you make during this critical period is all-important. What you perceive to be an innocent gesture may already be harmful or damaging to others, or worse may already be considered a violation of a certain law. Hence, punishable.
REPUBLIC ACT No. 11332
An Act Providing Policies and Prescribing Procedures on Surveillance and Response to Notifiable Diseases, Epidemics, and Health Events of Public Health Concern, and Appropriating Funds Therefor, Repealing for the Purpose Act No. 3573, Otherwise Known as the “Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases”
What are the prohibited acts under RA 11332?
(1) Unauthorized disclosure of private and confidential information pertaining to a patient’s medical condition or treatment;
Do not post on social media the name, residence or medical information of a person afflicted with COVID-19, without first obtaining proper authorization from said person. This is very important.
(2) Tampering of records or intentionally providing misinformation;
Be careful in forwarding or sharing news that do not come from legitimate sources. There are a lot of fake news circulating in social media. Rule of thumb: When in doubt, do not share or forward a post right away. As a responsible netizen, probe further and check if the source of the information is reliable or trustworthy, until you are fully convinced.
(3) Non-operation of the disease surveillance and response systems;
(4) Non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern; and
Hiding or concealing information about the medical condition of a person is punishable. More so if the concealed information pertains to COVID-19. If you know someone who has the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, it is your responsibility to report it to the proper government agency (Department of Health) for proper treatment.
(5) Non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.
If you are identified as a person under investigation or a person under monitoring, you have the responsibility to follow protocols on hospital admission or self-quarantine and monitoring, respectively. If you do not cooperate, you may be held liable for the same.
What are the penalties that may be imposed against you?
Any person or entity found to have committed any of the acts above (1-5) shall be penalized with:
(1) a fine of not less than Twenty thousand pesos (₱20,000.00) but not more than Fifty thousand pesos (₱50,000.00); or
(2) imprisonment of not less than one (1) month but not more than six (6) months; or
(3) both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the proper court.
If you are a licensed medical professional, the Professional Regulation Commission shall have the authority to suspend or revoke your license to practice for the commission of any violation above.
If you are a government employee, the Civil Service Commission shall have the authority to suspend or revoke your civil service eligibility for the commission of any violation above.
If the violation is committed by a public or private health facility, institution, agency, corporation, school, or other juridical entity duly organized in accordance with law, the chief executive officer, president, general manager, or such other officer in charge shall be held liable. In addition, the business permit and license to operate of the concerned facility, institution, agency, corporation, school, or legal entity shall be cancelled.
Lastly, I would like to remind you that RA 11332 is a special law. An act that violates a special law is called a malum prohibitum. Why is this relevant?
For an act which is declared as a malum prohibitum, malice or criminal intent is completely immaterial. Therefore, good faith or lack of criminal intent is not a defense. Mere commission of the violation is punishable.
Simply put, you cannot say that you had no bad intention in posting the name of the person who had COVID-19 on your Facebook account, but without proper authorization from the said person. Your intention in doing so, however noble it is, is still punishable under this law. So, you may still be held liable.
So please… be careful in what you say or what you do from now on. Please bear in mind that we all have our responsibility in this time of crisis. Let us all be responsible in our own little way.
Be informed about COVID-19. Stay safe.
This is Attorney Mommy, at your service!
Check out my previous post here: