Health Secretary Francisco Duque III recently urged Congress to “muster the political will” and pass a lawmaking vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory.
Duque made the statement as the number of Filipinos getting vaccinated against COVID-19 declined and as millions of vaccine doses are set to expire in the next few months, adding during the weekly “Talk to the People” of President Rodrigo Duterte, said his department had already exhausted all means to inoculate Filipinos.
Duque admitted that such a move would be “very controversial” but expressed hope that the public would understand the country’s COVID-19 situation.
As we speak, however, several senators have already debunked his suggestion.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said “Nagpe-face saving dahil ang dami nilang sinabit. (He’s trying to save face because they made many many failures). It’s his way to pass on his problems to us.”
Senator Ping Lacson also expressed disapproval, stressing the Department of Health (DOH) should have been “proactive instead of passing the burden to Congress. 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 Koko Pimentel, in a separate statement, said Duque’s statement is “not a valid idea. 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.”
Despite the rejection, Duque said the mandatory vaccination was only a suggestion. “I just want to make sure we try everything possible to get our people the protection they need through vaccination and boosters,” he added.
Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go maintained, “My position remains the same. While it may be ideal to make vaccination mandatory, government in all levels must exert more effort to convince the unvaccinated to get their COVID-19 shots as soon as possible.”
Nevertheless, Go stressed that the public must be made to realize that it is everyone’s moral obligation to keep their respective communities and the entire country safe.
“While we respect the right of our people to decide for themselves on this matter, we have to make them realize that it is everyone’s moral obligation to keep our communities safe!” he emphasized.
“Hindi man natin mapilit ang lahat na magpabakuna, dapat may sapat na kaalaman at insentibo ang mga tao para hindi na sila mag-alinlangan pa dahil bakuna talaga ang tanging susi o solusyon para malampasan ang pandemya,” he stressed in a statement issued on April 6.
“We should make vaccination as accessible as possible for everyone given that we have sufficient supply that should not go to waste,” he added.
According to the Department of Health, 1.54 percent of the total number of COVID-19 vaccines delivered in the country have gone to waste. About 27 million doses will also expire this July.