Palace says mandatory vaccination up to Congress; WHO says public should decide

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 30 2021 03:44 PM

Quezon City residents receive their COVID-19 vaccine dose at the Batasan Hills National High School on Nov. 29, 2021, the start of the
Quezon City residents receive their COVID-19 vaccine dose at the Batasan Hills National High School on Nov. 29, 2021, the start of the "National COVID-19 Vaccination Day". Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File 

 

MANILA— Malacañang said on Tuesday making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory is a decision that rests on Congress, while the World Health Organization said the public "should be free to decide what’s best for them." 

A law is needed to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory, noted acting Palace spokesman Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

"It is up to Congress to pass a law if they feel the need," he said in a televised public briefing. 

Nograles made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he was open to mandatory vaccinations given global concern on the newly discovered Omicron COVID-19 variant, which has not yet been detected in the Philippines. 

"As a worker of government also charged with the overall operation of the government, I may agree with the task force if they decide to make it mandatory. It’s for public health," he said. 

 

The task force "continues to weigh the options" on this, Nograles said. 

But he noted government this week launched a 3-day drive to inoculate 9 million people. 

"Hopefully, there might not be a need for that (mandatory vaccination) kung realistically on the ground eh marami naman po ang nagpabakuna," Nograles said. 

(There might not be a need for that if realistically, on the ground, many are getting vaccinated.)

Video courtesy of PTV 

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) "has always taken the stance that we are not mandating the vaccine" said country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe. 

"People should be free to decide what’s best for them," he said in the same briefing. 

But Abeyasinghe said the WHO has "strongly advocated that people, particularly people at risk, are prioritized and provided with vaccines." 

"We know that the vaccines are life-saving and the vaccines are capable of protecting people from severe disease, particularly those who are elderly or who have comorbidity," he said. 

The Philippines has been dealing with one of Asia's worst COVID-19 outbreaks and its vaccine rollout has been slower than many neighbors, with just over a third of its 110 million population inoculated.

Average new daily infections have fallen sharply to 1,644 in November from 18,579 in September, paving the way for a wider economic reopening.

Vaccination rates are uneven, however, with 93 percent of the capital region's eligible residents inoculated compared with 11 percent in the poorest parts of the south. 

WHO's Abeyasinghe added that nearly 2.5 million seniors citizens have yet to get even a single vaccine dose. 

 
— With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters