Vaccine chaos: Guevarra says IATF to strengthen communication efforts amid confusion over rumors, Duterte statements

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2021 07:59 PM | Updated as of Aug 05 2021 09:17 PM

Residents mostly from barangays under District 4 in Quezon City queue up for vaccination at Don Alejandro Roces Sr. High School on August 5, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Residents mostly from barangays under District 4 in Quezon City queue up for vaccination at Don Alejandro Roces Sr. High School on August 5, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — There is a need to improve communication efforts regarding guidelines issued by the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.

This, following chaos in vaccination centers in Metro Manila as people turned up in droves in a bid to get vaccinated a day before the capital re-enters the toughest lockdown.

Long lines were seen in vaccination centers in Manila, Las Piñas and Antipolo City, prompting some vaccinations to be cancelled because there were too many persons compared to the limited vaccine supply.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government had blamed the “fake news” that circulated that unvaccinated individuals will supposedly not receive “ayuda” or aid from the government as the reason for the surge of people rushing to vaccination centers.

The Palace attributed it to “fake news” spreaders, claiming that unvaccinated individuals will not be allowed to go out of their homes.

But it was the President himself who raised the idea that unvaccinated individuals won’t be allowed to step outside their houses, even ordering the police to escort them home and barangay captains to ensure that the unvaccinated won’t be going around as they might spread the coronavirus.

"Ito ngayong ayaw magpabakuna, sinasabi ko sa inyo, huwag kayong lumabas ng bahay. Kasi kapag lumabas kayo ng bahay, sabihin ko sa mga pulis, eh ibalik ka doon sa bahay mo. You will be escorted back to your house because you are a walking spreader," Duterte said in a recorded public address aired July 29. 

IATF CLARIFIES PRESIDENT’S STATEMENTS

Guevarra said the IATF has already clarified its position on the matter.

“The IATF has already clarified that in view of the fact that many people in the NCR have not been vaccinated due to supply constraints, there will be no distinctions in the meantime between APORs (authorized persons outside of residence) who have been vaccinated and those who have not received their jabs during the ECQ in the NCR,” he told reporters through a Viber message Thursday.

“The IATF spokesperson and the DILG secretary are communicating the IATF guidelines correctly, but something is lost somehow when the information is cascaded below. I will request the IATF to further strengthen its communication efforts,” he added.

The Commission on Human Rights has also warned against “undue discrimination” if the government decides to prevent unvaccinated people from going out while the vaccine supply remains limited.

NOT THE FIRST TIME

In June this year, Duterte previously talked about punishing those who do not want to get vaccinated, even threatening to send them to jail. 

But lawyers immediately pointed out that his threats have no legal basis.

Guevarra himself sought to rectify the President’s comment by saying that “there is no law as yet that compels vaccination against COVID-19, much less criminalizes it (not getting vaccinated), as presently available vaccines are still in their trial phases,” adding that not getting vaccinated is a legal choice.