MANILA – Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said that while vaccination against COVID-19 remains an option for Filipinos, they must understand that availing of it is for the greater good.
In an online forum, Concepcion admitted that affording more liberties to vaccinated individuals has been perceived as discriminatory and a violation of some rights of those who have yet to get the jab.
But he said that the rule on vaccination should be similar to how the government imposed the wearing of face masks and face shields.
“Why are we so focused on rights when the rights at the current stage today in this pandemic, to me, are already being violated? We’re not allowing certain people to go to these places. There are already rules,” he said.
Concepcion cited the move allowing only the inoculated in restaurants, salons, gyms and cinemas as a way of protecting those who have yet to receive the vaccine as they are most vulnerable to getting severely ill.
“Certain rights will have to be pushed aside because this is for the greater good of all Filipino people, to keep everyone safe including the unvaccinated who are at the highest risk at this point in time," he said.
The supposed violation of human rights, according to Concepcion, already happened in the course of the pandemic but noted that it was done to protect the population.
“When you are in a pandemic, certain rights are being tried. What is the right? You are closing down businesses. By closing business, you are violating the rights of a person or the person who started that business," he said.
"By depriving him of generating income to be able to pay his obligations is a serious thing. But the entire world is doing it."
It is extremely important, he said, to continue educating the public on the importance of getting jabbed, in the hopes of being able to safely reboot the economy.
Concepcion said that even though the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, businesses will be able to “rebound”. But it will be up to the business sector whether it will be fast or slow.
“Without mobility, there would be no economic activity. You want people to go out of their house to move and travel and spend,” he said.
Echoing health experts, Concepcion said mobility may only be increased if more and more Filipinos would get the vaccine, which, authorities said, could prevent hospitalization or death.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in late August that it was not yet time to give vaccinated persons greater mobility and access amid the lingering pandemic, as he cited the equal protection clause and still limited supply of COVID-19 shots at the time.
“I understand that the objective behind PA Concepcion's proposal to give vaccinated persons greater mobility and access is to boost the revival of certain sectors of the economy. The idea is good but may be challenged as violative of the equal protection clause by those who have remained unvaccinated but are nonetheless complying with mandatory health protocols,” Guevarra said then.
The widening vaccination coverage was cited by the OCTA research group as among main reasons for the decline in cases observed since last month.
The Philippines this week began the vaccination of all children aged 12 to 17. It aims to inoculate nearly 10 million of the age group by yearend, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said.
A total of 40,419 children with health risks have received an initial dose as of Tuesday, Cabotaje added.
The government, meanwhile, also plans to start administering booster shots by Nov. 15.
Nationwide, around 27.7 million individuals have been fully vaccinated against the respiratory illness, while 32.7 million others have received a first dose, according to government data.