MANILA (UPDATE) - Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Acosta must be barred from physically going to work for being unvaccinated, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Thursday.
Acosta earlier said she was "waiting for a protein-based" vaccine and claimed that government's "no vaccination, no ride" policy was "unconstitutional."
"She's a high-ranking official, she's an Undersecretary, people look up to her for example of how a government official should behave," Drilon told ANC's Headstart.
"She's a high government official who must follow government regulation otherwise govt campaign in having people vaccinated will suffer from credibility issues because a high government official does not follow government mandate."
Drilon said he was "open for a debate" on a mandatory vaccination policy, adding that other democratic countries such as the US and France serve as a precedence.
"We’re only at 54 (percent vaccination rate) and we’re already 2 years in the pandemic. Government should be doing everything in order to increase this very low rate of 54 percent," he said.
The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated 56 million individuals, while 59.2 million have received an initial dose and 5.3 million booster shots have been administered as of Tuesday, according to Department of Health data.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque, meantime, urged Acosta to get vaccinated.
"Ako ay nananawagan kay PAO chief Acosta, dahil palagay ko malapit na rin siya maging senior citizen, dapat mabigyan siya ng karagdagang protekyson sa pamamagitan ng bakuna," he told reporters.
(I call on PAO chief Acosta, because I think she's nearly a senior citizen, she should give herself extra protection by getting vaccinated.)
"Ayaw naman nating malagay siya sa isang nakapapeligrosong katayuan lalo na kung ito ay severe o critical COVID infection...Gaya ng sinabi niya meron siyang ibang sakit, mas lalong magpabakuna siya bunsod ng kanyang comorbidities."
(We don't want to put her in a more dangerous situation if she contracts severe or critical COVID infection...As she said, she has other illnesses, her comorbidities are more reason she should get vaccinated.)
Vaccine hesitancy remain an issue for many Filipinos, amid fears of death and acquiring illnesses due to vaccines.
Acosta, in a recent interview with Headstart, cited claims some people died after vaccine inoculation and that she would wait for a protein-based vaccine before agreeing to be jabbed.
Many peer-reviewed studies already backed the efficiency and safety of several vaccines against COVID-19. While breakthrough infections are possible, most vaccines prevent hospitalizations and death.