MANILA- Public Attorney's Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta hit back at Senator Franklin Drilon on Thursday after he said she should be barred from going to work physically due to not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
Acosta said that Drilon should not attack her personally, but instead go after Republic Act 11525, or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021.
According to Acosta, the law acknowledged the experimental nature of COVID-19 vaccines, mandated the creation of a national vaccine indemnity fund, and rendered vaccinators and vaccine manufacturers immune from suit and liability.
She said that under the law, vaccine cards should not be considered an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment, and other similar government transactions.
"Provided further that the vaccine cards shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment and other similar government transaction. Walang mandatory vaccination," Acosta said. "Batas ho ito eh. Republic Act 11525. Bakit ako po ang kanilang pinepersonal? Eh di atakihin nila ‘tong batas na ito."
(There is no mandatory vaccination. This is law. Republic Act 11525. Why am I being attacked personally? They should attack this law.)
"Eh Kongreso po ang gumawa nitong Republic Act 11525? Hindi naman ako. Wala akong pirma dito."
(Congress came up with Republic Act 11525, not me. I didn't sign it.)
She said it was up to a person whether they should get vaccinated against COVID-19. She also said that vaccines were still under Emergency Use Authorization, and that they should be given a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) first before they are made mandatory.
"Pwedeng i-mandatory vaccination, kung may CPR na ‘yan at proven na walang namamatay, walang nai-incapacitate, walang natatak, walang nagma-myocarditis, kahit sinasabi ng mga gumawa ng bakuna na ‘yan ang side effect. Eh kung wala, bigyan ng CPR," she said.
(You can do mandatory vaccinations if the vaccine has a CPR and it's proven that nobody will die from it, nobody gets incapacitated, nobody gets myocarditis, even if the vaccine makers said these are the side effects. If the vaccine doesn't have any of these, then give it a CPR.)
Acosta accused Drilon of not following the issue she initially raised, which was the supposed unconstitutionality of government's "no vax, no ride" policy.
"Eh 50 million pa yung hindi nababakunahan eh? Eh di lahat ng hindi bakunado, hindi niya papasukin? Anong mangyayari ‘dun?" the PAO chief said. "Eh hindi niya sinusundan yung logic ng issue, dapat may major premise, minor premise, tsaka conclusion. Kung puro minor premise lang, ay walang katuturan yung conclusion na wag nang papasukin si Persida Acosta."
(50 million Filipinos aren't vaccinated yet. So if they're unvaccinated, he wouldn't allow them to go to work? What will happen then? He's not following the logic of the issue. There should be a major premise, minor premise, then the conclusion. If it's all just minor premises, then the conclusion that Persida Acosta should not be allowed to go to work is worthless.)
But Acosta also said that she bore no ill-will toward Drilon.
"Wala po akong masamang tinapay kay Sir Frank. Mahal na mahal ko po ‘yan kaya kahit na binabanatan niya ako parang siguro ‘di ko alam bakit galit sa akin ‘to eh binoto naman namin siya," she said.
(I don't have any grudges toward Sir Frank. I love him very much even though he's hitting me like this. It's like I don't know why he's so mad at me, even though we voted for him.)
Drilon said earlier on Thursday that Acosta should get vaccinated against COVID-19 since she was a government official. He warned that her not doing so could result in credibility issues for Manila's vaccination campaign.
The Senate minority leader added that he was "open for a debate" on a mandatory vaccination policy.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also urged Acosta to get the jab, saying that she was almost a senior citizen and should get extra protection against COVID-19.
The PAO chief earlier said that she was waiting for what she called a "protein-based" COVID-19 vaccine.