DAVAO CITY — Vice presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Monday said that residents who opted to not get vaccinated against COVID-19 should not face discrimination.
The statement came after tighter restrictions for unvaccinated residents were implemented in other parts of the country due to the rising cases of COVID-19.
Duterte-Carpio said the government did not make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for everyone.
"Therefore, people were given a choice: if they want to get vaccinated or not. For those who chose not to get anti-COVID-19 vaccines, they should not be discriminated because they were given a choice," she said in an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio.
"Why will we make it difficult for people na pumiling hindi magpabakuna na wala namang sinabi na mandatory ang bakuna," she added.
(Why will we make it difficult for people who chose not to get vaccinated when vaccines are not mandatory?)
Based on the latest data from the city government, Davao City already has over 1.16 million fully vaccinated residents, only a few left to reach 1.2 million to achieve herd immunity.
Duterte-Carpio also said she is in favor of COVID-19 vaccination and booster shots, but she just cannot agree with the exclusion or restriction of the unvaccinated.
"Kung hindi natin sila binigyan ng freedom na pumiling hindi magpabakuna, then, pwede lang talaga na ikulong sila diyan sa kanilang bahay. Pero binigyan natin sila ng freedom, so bakit sila pahirapan," she said.
(If we did not give them the freedom to choose not to get vaccinated, then we can detain them at their house. But if we gave them freedom, why will we make them suffer?)
The mayor also denied circulating unverified reports regarding the restricted movements of unvaccinated residents in Davao City starting January 15.
Watch more on iWantTFC
President Rodrigo Duterte last week ordered barangay officials to "restrain" and "arrest" people unvaccinated against COVID-19 who refuse to "stay put", as the Philippines battled a new surge of coronavirus infections.
Unvaccinated people face higher risk of developing severe or critical COVID-19 symptoms compared to those who have completed their jabs, noted Duterte's acting spokesman, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
“As father of the nation, the President is only trying to protect the unvaccinated and this is for the common good,” he said in a press briefing.
The Philippines logged 33,169 new coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the overall tally close to 3 million as the Omicron variant takes its toll, with Metro Manila and surrounding provinces worst hit.
The healthcare system is at risk of being overwhelmed, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told ANC news channel, calling on symptomatic people to immediately isolate and get tested.
— With a report from Reuters