Some Senators Reject Duque’s Hopes of Making COVID Jab Mandatory

An April 6, 2022 article published in CNN reports some senators turned down Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s idea of making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory to increase the inoculation rate in the country.

According to the article, Duque’s remarks came amid the potential wastage of over 27 million vaccine doses in July. During a taped Cabinet meeting aired on April 5, Duque acknowledged that COVID booster uptake remains low.

Some senators quashed Duque’s hopes. Senate President Vicente Sotto III called it the health chief’s “face-saving way. “Nagpi-face saving dahil ang dami nilang sinabit mula noong March 2020 hanggang ngayon (He’s trying to save face because they have so many failures since March 2020 until now). It’s his way to pass on his problems to us,” reacting to Duque’s statement that he would “welcome” if Congress could “muster that political will” to make vaccination and booster shots mandatory. [See Duque Hopes Lawmakers to Enact Mandatory Vaccination]

Senator Ping Lacson also expressed disapproval, stressing the Department of Health (DOH) should have been proactive instead of passing the burden to Congress. “There is no political will in violating the basic rights, and freedoms that belong to any person, and forcing Filipinos to get vaccinated violates that human right… Allowing 27 million doses or even a portion of it to expire is criminal and the height of incompetence and irresponsibility.”

Also, in a separate statement, Senator Koko Pimentel said Duque’s statement is “not a valid idea.” “Since COVID-19 vaccines are still experimental, it is scientifically unsound to make them mandatory. Since the Philippine constitution recognizes our right over our bodies, it is not legally possible to make an experimental vaccine for a disease with a mandatory 1.5% mortality rate. It will be unconstitutional for being unreasonable… And finally, since the vaccines are about to expire, it is even more unethical and immoral to make vaccination mandatory because of this reason and the fear that the Commission on Audit will make the expiration of millions of doses an audit finding.”

Editor’s Note: When some Filipinos’ trust in the government has already eroded, these leaders give hope to the people. These three personalities have been consistent with their stance on protecting the dignity of Filipinos against unconstitutional covid jab mandates [see Senate President Vicente Sotto Denounces Discrimination Against the Vaccine-Free; Philippines: Two More Senators Speak Out Scrapping ‘No Vax, No Ride’ Policy; Senator Koko Pimentel Says Listing Down Unvaccinated is Violation of Constitutional Rights].

May we see more of their actions and walking their talk in protecting the Filipinos against abusive vaccine directives?

We hope that this is not merely political but having the people’s best interest. We are still waiting for Senator Sotto’s initiative on mass vaccination and upholding the law.

Also, since these are also significant voices in the Senate, we can only hope that our pleas and fight against covid restrictions will not fall on deaf ears. That once Senate and Congress resume, may all pending covid vaccine bills[1]https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/11/04/21/vaccine-czar-galvez-in-favor-of-mandatory-vaccination[2]https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1128887[3]https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1491340/mandatory-covid-19-vaccination-for-eligible-filipinos-pushed-in-house[4]https://legacy.senate.gov.ph/lis/bill_res.aspx?congress=18&q=SBN-2422[5]https://legacy.senate.gov.ph/photo_release/2021/0913_10.asp will be rejected since all are not only abusive but also unconstitutional.

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