Cotabato village eyes ‘tokhang’ vs unvaxxed
KIDAPAWAN CITY, Cotabato, Philippines — Officials of Sudapin village here will use the tactic employed by the police’s Operation Tokhang to convince unvaccinated villagers to take the COVID-19 jab.
Barangay Sapudin chair John Karl Sibug said they would go house to house from Monday to Thursday this week to convince those who had not taken the vaccine yet to join the vaccination drive scheduled in the village on Friday.
“Tokhang,” which was coined by joining the two Cebuano terms “toktok” (to knock) and “hangyo” (to ask), was first used as part of President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs campaign, by knocking at the doors of suspected drug addicts and asking them to mend their ways. Tokhang operations had been blamed for the numerous deaths of drug suspects, causing outcry from local and international human rights defenders that forced the government to scrap it.
Sibug said they would start going house to house in his village, where there were still more than 3,000 individuals who refused to be vaccinated despite the government’s extensive vaccination campaign.
“We will start to personally visit each of their houses today, Monday, to encourage them to join the Bakunahan sa Barangay on Friday,” Sibug said. He assured, though, that the vaccination drive would not be compulsory but would purely be voluntary.
No services, clearance
Yet, he added, those who would refuse to get vaccinated without valid reasons would not be allowed to leave their homes.
As a village chief, he said, he had no power to arrest or detain unvaccinated villagers but while the government would respect their decision not to get inoculated, the government would have the option to prioritize vaccinated individuals in the delivery of services and government assistance.
He also warned that unvaccinated individuals could not get clearance or certification from his barangay if they could not justify why they continued to refuse to take the vaccine.
“We will not arrest them because we don’t want to violate their rights,” Sibug said. “Of course, if they can justify [why they refused to be vaccinated] and they had a certification from their physicians, perhaps, we will consider [their cases],” he said.
Sibug has requested the City Health Office to conduct a mass vaccination in his village of 12,000 people on Friday. Barangay Sudapin has its own health workers, nurses and doctors who will administer the vaccines on Friday to the village of 12,000 people.
Lawyer Jose Paolo Evangelista, head of the COVID-19 nerve center in Kidapawan City, said the number of fully vaccinated people in the city already reached 102,815, or 93.017 percent, of its 110,466 target to achieve herd immunity.
No lockdown in Davao
In Davao City, Southern Philippines Medical Center, considered the country’s largest government hospital, has suspended the face-to-face services of its outpatient department and the admission of surgical cases on Monday, following a rise of COVID-19 admissions in the hospital.
But the hospital’s outpatient teleconsultations will remain open to compensate for the services while its emergency surgical and urgent cancer cases will continue to be accommodated.
Of the 1,454 patients tested at the hospital on Sunday, 409 turned positive for COVID-19. On the same day, 71 new COVID-19 cases were admitted to the hospital, bringing to 321 the number of virus patients it was attending to.
Davao Region was also seeing a spike in virus cases, totaling 629 infections on Sunday, 493 of them from Davao City. But the local government would not require a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results from travelers entering the city, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said in a Jan. 13 order.
But international air travelers or those coming from Metro Manila will still be made to comply with the requirements set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, she added. Mayor Duterte had lifted the requirements for the negative RT-PCR test results since November last year.
Mayor Duterte added there would be no lockdown of establishments in the city even if it had been placed under alert level 3 until the end of January.
“We will be liberal in the implementation of the alert level policy,” Mayor Duterte said, pointing out that closing down business establishments will have a huge impact on the economy. She instead urged the residents to wear masks and practice physical distancing.
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