Policy, Legal Effect and Mandate under RA 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act
Pursuant to the policy of the State enshrined under Section 15, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution — to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them, Republic Act No. 11332, otherwise known as the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act (RA 11332) was enacted in 2019. This new law repealed Act No. 3573, otherwise known as the “Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases”.
RA 11332 aims, among others, to establish effective mechanisms for strong collaboration with national and local government health agencies to ensure proper procedures are in place to promptly respond to reports of notifiable diseases and health events of public health concern, including case investigations, treatment, and control and containment, including follow-up activities.
Under this Act, the DOH and its local counterparts are mandated to implement the mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases and health events of public health concern, among others.
Punishable Acts under RA 11332
Section 9 of the law provides for the acts which are prohibited, namely:
(a) Unauthorized disclosure of private and confidential information pertaining to a patient’s medical condition or treatment;
(b) Tampering of records or intentionally providing misinformation;
(c) Non-operation of the disease surveillance and response systems;
(d) Non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern; and
(e) Non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.
Disclosure of confidential information will not be considered violation of this Act if the disclosure was made to comply with a legal order issued by a court of law with competent jurisdiction.
Notable today amid the COVID-19 crisis is the issue on self-quarantine. When an individual does not self-quarantine in case of infection, he or she may be liable under Sec. 9, paragraph d of RA 11332, for non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern.
Penalties under RA 11332
Any person or entity committing these prohibited acts shall be penalized with a fine of not less than Twenty thousand pesos (₱20,000.00) but not more than Fifty thousand pesos (₱50,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than one (1) month but not more than six (6) months, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the proper court.
Moreover, the Professional Regulation Commission shall have the authority to suspend or revoke the license to practice of any medical professional, and in the case of a public servant, the Civil Service Commission shall have the authority to suspend or revoke the civil service eligibility of a public servant, who is in violation of this Act.
If the offense 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.
Applicability of RA 11332 during COVID-19 Pandemic
Section 7 of RA 11332 provides that the President of the Republic of the Philippines shall declare a State of Public Health Emergency in the event of an epidemic of national and/or international concern which threatens national security in order to mobilize governmental and nongovernmental agencies to respond to the threat.
Hence, on 08 March 2020, with the emergence of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) cases in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, through Proclamations No. 922, s. 2020, declared the country in a state of Public Health Emergency throughout the Philippines and consequently, imposed an Enhanced Community Quarantine throughout Luzon.
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