JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra said there is no law yet compelling people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Guevarra made the statement when sought regarding President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest televised rant that he would order the arrest of persons who refuse to get vaccinated.
Guevarra pointed out that Duterte only used harsh words to convince people to get COVID-19 vaccine.
“I believe that the president merely used strong words to drive home the need for us to get vaccinated and reach herd immunity as soon as possible.”
“As a lawyer, he knows that not getting vaccinated is a legal choice; there is no law as yet that compels vaccination against Covid-19, much less criminalizes it, as presently available vaccines are still in their trial phases,” Guevarra said.
Duterte said on Monday: “Kung ayaw mo magpabakuna, ipaaresto kita at ang bakuna, itusok ko sa puwet mo. Putang ina, bwisit kayo. ”
“Magpabakuna kayo or ipakulong ko kayo sa selda, ” the President added.
He also threatened to inject them with the version of anti-parasitic medicine Ivermectin intended for animals.
The government has administered over seven million vaccine doses as of Monday, according to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Of that number, only 1.9 million have been fully vaccinated or have received their second vaccine dose.
DUTERTE THREAT ‘BORN OUT OF PASSION’
The Department of Health pointed out that free, prior, and informed consent is a requirement for COVID-19 vaccination, as it urged the public not to take into context President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to arrest people refusing to get vaccinated against the disease.
Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje claimed Duterte’s threat was merely “born out of passion,” considering that only over 6.2 million Filipinos have been vaccinated as of June 20.
“Ang ating bakuna ay may free and prior informed consent kaya kailangan magpirma sila ng consent para magbakuna. The President’s statement must be put into context. I think it is born out of the passion and need of the President to emphasize the point na kailangan magpabakuna to help us move on para maproteksyunan ang (that we must get vaccinated to protect) one another,” Cabotaje said.
“Ang sabi nga niya, ‘No one is safe until everyone is safe.’ He wants safe and effective vaccines for all Filipinos kaya ipinapatupad lang po ‘yung kanyang gustong mangyari dito sa ating bansa,” she added.
Duterte earlier threatened that he will order the arrest of Filipinos who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19. This was his latest threat aimed at enforcing compliance with health protocols, including the wearing of face masks and the ban on mass gatherings.
He noted that everyone is a potential carrier of the virus which is why it is important to get inoculated to also protect other people.
Duterte said he is just exasperated by Filipinos who refuse to receive their vaccine shots, when the government just wants what’s best for them and the country.
Earlier surveys revealed that there are Filipinos not keen on receiving COVID-19 vaccines due to concerns on safety, efficacy, and cost. Despite this, medical experts continue to encourage more people to get immunized to reduce severe cases, longer hospitalization and to achieve herd immunity.
With Lee Ann P. Ducusin