The latest pronouncement of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emergence Infectious Diseases, through Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles, was that personal information of COVID-19 patients must be disclosed.
However, Nograles, the spokesperson of the task force, made a qualifying statement that in doing so, the public disclosure should be in accordance with Republic Act 10173, or the Data Privacy Act, a law that provides parameters in making such moves.
The pronouncement was made yesterday as a way of ensuring that contact-tracing of those exposed to the patients would be done faster and in an efficient manner with both the Office of the Civil Defense and the Department of Health leading the pronouncement.
This move is a double-edged sword in relation to the patients.
The good side is that it will help both those exposed to the patients and the agencies undertaking the contact-tracing activities to find these individuals, test them and eventually save them from the illness. It will also limit the exposure as the agencies will have the way to institute steps to prevent the exposure to become massive.
However, the bad side is that the identities of the patients will be known not only to the agencies, but to some unscrupulous individuals who might use these pieces of information to make moves that will not only destroy the personality of the patients but also create fear within the communities.
One case was the one about those who went to the New Matina Gallera with some of them getting identified in social media posts, among them those dead. The problem is that members of their families, many of them unwittingly dragged into the controversy, also suffered humiliation as they became subjects of name-calling.
So, to ensure that the patients and their kin are protected from people who might want to destroy them for whatever motivation, the agencies must make sure that these pieces of information are treated with utmost care.
These patients, either because of their own recklessness or because they are victims of circumstances, are still human and that they must be protected in a very humane manner possible.
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