Senators cool to mandatory COVID-19 vaccination law | Inquirer News
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Senators cool to mandatory COVID-19 vaccination law

/ 01:09 PM April 06, 2022
mandatory covid-19 vaccination

OUTDOOR SHOTS The Baguio City government holds a vaccination drive for residents at Malcolm Square, a downtown park, on Jan. 11. —EV ESPIRITU

MANILA, Philippines — Several senators are cool to the idea of passing a law making COVID-19 vaccination and booster shots mandatory, with one saying the Department of Health should not “pass the burden to Congress.”

“It’s his way to pass on his problem to us. We have six days left. We are converting into the National Board of Canvassers not to mention the human rights aspect,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a message to reporters on Wednesday.

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Sotto was reacting to a recent pronouncement by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III that it would be a welcome move if Congress “can muster that political will to make vaccination and booster mandatory” in the country.

“There is no political will in violating the basic rights and freedoms that belong to any person and forcing Filipinos to get vaccinated is a violation of that human right,” Senator Panfilo Lacson, for his part, said.

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“DOH (Department of Health) should have been proactive instead of passing the burden to Congress,” he added

Lacson said house-to-house campaigns should have been implemented since the start of the government’s vaccination rollout.

“Allowing 27 million doses or even a portion of it to expire is criminal and the height of incompetence and irresponsibility,” he further said.

Duque expressed hopes for a law requiring COVID-19 vaccination and booster shots after it was recently reported that some 27 million COVID-19 vaccine doses are nearing expiry.

According to Duque, a number of Filipinos still refuse to get vaccinated and the government has done all it could to encourage people to get vaccinated, including setting up drive-thru vaccination sites, tapping pharmacies and doctors’ clinics as inoculation centers, and delivering the vaccine doses to people’s houses.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, however, said making vaccination mandatory is “not a valid idea.”

“Since [COVID-19] vaccines are still experimental, then it is scientifically unsound to make them mandatory. Since the Philippine constitution recognizes our right over our bodies,  then it is not legally possible to make experimental vaccine for a disease with an approximated 1.5% mortality rate mandatory. It will be unconstitutional for being unreasonable,” Pimentel said.

“And finally since the vaccines are about to expire, then all the more it is unethical and immoral to make vaccination mandatory just because of this reason and the fear that the commission  on audit will make the expiration of millions of doses an audit finding,” he added.

/MUF

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TAGS: covid-19 vaccination, DoH, Nation, News, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senator Koko Pimentel, Senator Panfilo Lacson
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