House Bill 9230 or the Public Health Emergency Anti-Negligent and Corrupt Practices Act, which seeks to penalize government officials who neglect to respond to public health emergencies, was filed in the House of Representatives last April 20.

The bill seeks to prohibit and penalize negligence, inaction, inefficiency, and corruption by government officials and employees, as well as private individuals, during health emergencies.

“Such times of war against any novel disease or public health threat acting with swiftness and efficient efficiency and having a clear policy direction are the names of the game by which the government must adhere,” the bill’s explanatory note stated. 

Acts punishable under the bill include negligence in developing the necessary government response to a public health emergency, neglect in obtaining medicines, vaccines, supplies, and facilities essential to preventing or combatting a health threat, and delay in the disbursement of funds intended for emergency response.

Upon enactment of the law, the Office of the Ombudsman is obliged to appoint a special officer who will focus on officials to be prosecuted for negligence during health emergencies.

Reps. Eddie Villanueva (Cibac party-list), Bienvenido Abante (6th District, Manila), Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Bagong Henerasyon party-list), Michael Romero (1Pacman party-list), Allan Reyes (PDP-Laban, Quezon City) and Domingo Rivera (Cibac party-list) co-authored House Bill 9230. Arnet Paguirigan