Palace: Law, ordinance needed to arrest people refusing to get COVID-19 vaccine
MANILA, Philippines — A law or local ordinance is needed to warrant the arrest of people who do not want to get the vaccine against the deadly COVID-19, Malacañang said Tuesday.
According to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the country’s jurisprudence allows the government to compel mandatory vaccination but that such action would still need a law or ordinance to provide for the punishment of people unwilling to get jabbed against the disease.
“Sa jurisprudence ng Pilipinas at America, pupuwede ma-compel, pupwede maipatupad ang compulsory vaccination pero kinakailangan ng legal na basehan so kinakailangan natin either ng ordinansa or ng batas na magpapataw ng parusa doon sa mga ayaw magpabakuna,” he said in a Palace briefing.
(Under the jurisprudence of the Philippines and America, the government can implement compulsory vaccination but it needs a legal basis so it needs either an ordinance or a law that would provide for the punishment of those who refuse to get vaccinated.)
The Palace official also said the State has an inherent police power to implement policies, even if it could violate certain rights, to protect public health.
“Kapag sinabing police power, talagang may karapatang nalalabag pero nilalabag ‘yung karapatan na ‘yun para sa mas malawakang interes at ito ‘yung public health at public safety,” he explained.
(When you say police power, there are really policies that could violate rights in exchange for the larger interest and this is the public health and public safety.)
Roque added that the Executive branch could easily ask Congress to draft a law on the matter but he said President Rodrigo Duterte hopes it does not come to that point. Duterte earlier threatened to have individuals who refuse to get COVID-19 vaccines arrested.
Roque then said Duterte only made the threat to “emphasize what the state can do.”
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, for his part, said Tuesday that the country has no law to compel anyone to get vaccinated, adding that the President “merely used strong words” to stress the importance of getting vaccinated and achieving herd immunity.
In April, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga filed a bill mandating the COVID-19 vaccination in the Philippines before the House of Representatives.
Under the bill, the vaccination shall be given for free at any government hospital or health center provided that “inoculation must, at all times, be science- and evidence-based.”
A similar measure has yet to be filed in the Senate.
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