Villanueva: Education, not penalties, to address vaccine hesitancy

Published June 23, 2021, 10:13 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Threatening to arrest people over their refusal to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 will not solve the hesitancy among Filipinos of receiving the jab, Senator Joel Villanueva said.

A Manila resident receives a first dose of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine during the inoculation drive at a school in Tondo, Manila on June 20, 2012. (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

Villanueva disagreed with President Duterte’s threat to order the arrest of people who do not want to be vaccinated, saying educating them, rather, will encourage them to get the coronavirus vaccines.

“Sa totoo lang po, wala po tayong maisip kung anong violation ang pwedeng ipataw sa mga ayaw magpabakuna. Edukasyon pa rin po sa pagpapabakuna ang susi (To be honest, I cannot think of what violation could be committed by those who refuse to get vaccinated. Education, still, is the key to encourage vaccination),” Villanueva said in a statement Tuesday, June 22.

“With all due respect, we can probably talk about penalties if we already have a surplus of vaccines. Until now, marami pa rin po ang gusto magpabakuna na hindi mabakunahan (many people wanted to get vaccinated but can’t because there’s lack in vaccines),” he added.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also raised the same concern, tweeting: “If one refuses inoculation, what law did he/she violate?”

After securing enough vaccines for the population, Villanueva said the national government could take cue from local government units that are offering rewards and prizes for getting vaccinated, instead of punishments.

“If cash-strapped local governments have found creative ways to market the vaccines, then the national government with far more resources can do more,” he pointed out.

In his televised address last Monday, June 21, Duterte said he would order local executives to arrest people who refuse to get vaccinated to “sequester” potential carriers of the novel coronavirus.

“Mamili kayo: Magpabakuna kayo o ipakulong ko kayo sa selda (Choose: Get vaccinated or I’ll put you in jail),” the President said.

His spokesperson, Harry Roque, however, said a law is needed for it to be implemented.