Senator Koko Pimentel Says Listing Down Unvaccinated is Violation of Constitutional Rights

In a January 13, 2021 article published in The Inquirer, Christia Marie Ramos reported that Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III sees the move of listing the names of individuals still unvaccinated against COVID-19 as a violation of constitutional rights.

The following are Senator Pimentel’s other points cited by the report:

  • “Listing is shaming. Listing is pressuring. Bawal ‘yan [That’s not allowed]. Violation of constitutional rights.”
  • Will people who are considered a ‘homebody’ and have yet to be vaccinated be hunted and listed down like he is wanted for a crime? … They’re already a homebody; they do not go outside; why would they need to be listed down like criminals? [Translated from Filipino]
  • To lessen friction in our society caused by the issue of Covid-19 vaccination, the call should be for the public to get vaccinated for their own protection. [Translated from Filipino]
  • “Let us, therefore, promote the ‘vaccination of the willing!’ Yun gusto magpabakuna, bakunahan na kasi sigurado namang meron supply [Those who want to get vaccinated, should be vaccinated because there is enough supply],” he added.
  • No one should be forced. Those who don’t want to get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons or because they don’t believe in the COVID-19 vaccines that are under experimental use authorization, we should not force them. [Translated from Filipino]
  • If there is a move to pass such a law, this will be unconstitutional. Actions that force those who do not want to get a vaccine are questionable and unconstitutional. [Translated from Filipino]

Editor’s Note: Senator Koko Pimentel is the second senator who has spoken his opinion on the restriction of unvaccinated [see Manny Pacquiao: Vaccination Should Continue to be a Personal Choice]. This establishes that the policies being implemented by the government today are a violation of our constitutional rights.

However, we call for a more definitive action from them, notably since some of their Senate colleagues are pushing to amend the current RA 11525. [See Philippine Senators File Bill to Make Health Passports Mandatory]. Sen. Pimentel’s statement is clear, “the move to pass such as law is unconstitutional.” His move forward should be clear too: he and senators who share the same sentiment should block efforts to amend the only law that protects the unvaccinated from discrimination.

We need more forthright senators like Senator Pacquiao and Senator Pimentel. Still, we also need actions more because many Filipinos do not understand their rights. They naively cave into the fear-mongering of the perpetrators who tout that they are just looking after the people’s best interest [see Restricting Mobility of Vax-Free Individuals is an Assault on Constitutionally-Protected Rights].

These politicians should finally stand for the people and uphold the constitution; that is what they are supposed to do, in the first place. Will anyone have the courage to go beyond making statements and finally make an effort to block these illegal policies?

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