MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirant and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Wednesday thumbed down the proposal to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory in the country, saying the government should instead focus on informing the public that vaccines are safe and effective against severe respiratory illness.
He said people have the right to refuse to get vaccinated, citing a law that allows patients to decline medical treatment from hospitals.
“Sa palagay ko hindi natin pwedeng pwersahin kahit sino na magpabakuna. Alam niyo, may batas na kapag ikaw kahit na nasa hospital ka at sinasabi ng doctor na kailangan mong maiwan sa hospital, kung aayawin na ng pasyente, sasabihin ‘hindi ayoko na, gusto ko nang umuwi’ ay hindi sila mapipigilan,” he said in an interview over Go Negosyo.
(I think we can’t force people to get vaccinated. There’s a law where patients can refuse medical treatment even when they are already in the hospital and being advised by doctors to get treated.)
“Ganun din ‘yung bakuna, hindi natin sila mapipilit,” he added.
(The same goes for vaccination. We can’t force them.)
The former senator said the public, especially those who refuse to get vaccinated, should instead be informed of the benefits and safety of the vaccines.
“‘Yung mga ayaw magpabakuna, dapat maunawaan nila na magiging mas mahirap ‘yung buhay nila dahil hindi sila makakapasok sa mga restaurant, hindi sila makakapasok sa mall, ‘di sila makakpunta sa labas,” Marcos said.
(Those who don’t want to get vaccinated should understand that their lives would be much difficult because they can’t go into restaurants, malls, and they can’t go outside.)
“Kailangan ding maunawaan ng bawat isa sa atin na ang pagbakuna ng sarili ay hindi lamang para sa sarili. Ito rin ay para maging ligtas ang ating pamilya, ang ating mga katrabaho, ‘yung ating mga kaibigan. ‘Pag ikaw ay nabakunahan, hindi mo na dadalhin ‘yung sakit sa kahit na kanino pa,” he added.
(We should also understand that we don’t get vaccinated just for ourselves. This is also to protect our family, our colleagues, our friends. If you’re vaccinated, you won’t be bringing the virus to anyone.)
The government should also work to assure the public that vaccines are safe and effective and severe adverse events are “very, very rare,” Marcos said.
“Hindi na siguro, ‘wag na natin pwersahin, ‘wag na natin pilitin ‘yung mandatory vaccination , ipaliwanag lang natin mabuti sa taumbayan kung bakit kailangan na kailangan ng bakuna,” he added.
(So I think we don’t need to make vaccination mandatory. Let’s not force it anymore. Let’s just explain why it’s essential.)
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he would be open to making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory if the Inter-Agency Task Force recommends it.
He made the remark after meeting with the National Task Force against COVID-19 about the looming risk of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
For his part, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that instead of making vaccination mandatory, the government should put pressure on the unvaccinated, “make it harder for them to live.”
Malacañang, however, said making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory is up to Congress as there needs to be a law for it.