Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu Mayor Junard Chan displayed not just mere innovation, but political will in ordering a “no vaccine, no entry” policy on local establishments, including shopping malls and grocery stores.
Thus, said Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya Para sa Mamamayan (AGHAM) President Angelo Palmones on Tuesday, Aug. 3, a day after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s rather diplomatic rejection of Chan’s directive.
“It’s political will, Harry! It’s not a simple innovation,” Palmones said.
“The Lapu-lapu City mayor’s policy is more sensible and scientific than the motorcycle barriers imposed on poor commuters,” the pro-science consumer advocacy group president said, alluding to a much-panned directive from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases last year during the first few months of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Lapu-Lapu City is set to prohibit non-vaccinated individuals from entering local commercial establishments beginning Aug. 25.
In a virtual press briefing Monday, Roque said, “I commend Mayor [Chan] of Lapu-Lapu for this innovation. Pero siguro po hindi pa napapanahon kasi ‘yung mga ganyang restrictions po pinapatupad ng mga bansang France at ilang parte ng Estados Unidos kasi nakabakuna na sila ng more than 50 percent of their population (I think that is not yet timely, those kinds of restrictions are being imposed in France and some parts of the United States because they’ve already vaccinated over 50 percent of their population).”
That is certainly not yet the case for the Philippines, which has so far acquired 34.2 million COVID-19 jabs for its estimated population of 110 million. The Philippines isn’t a vaccine-producing country and merely relies on public/ private sector procurement and the donation of other nations for its vaccine supply.
Palmones underscored that the issue is no longer vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos; rather, it’s the sheer shortage of available vaccines.
“The IATF cannot yet recommend the ‘no vaccine, no entry’ policy to the private sector because it will magnify the inadequate supply of vaccines and the inefficiency of IATF’s procurement process,” said the former House of Representatives member.
“Vaccine hesitancy has reduced gradually due to Delta variant’s threat. When people braved the rains and floods just to be vaccinated, they manifested desperation to get protected,” Palmones said, referring to last week’s torrential rains triggered by the southwest monsoon.
“The mayor of Lapu-Lapu City is not only showing how to exercise the police power of the government. He’s telling IATF to move swiftly in the vaccine rollout,” he further said of Chan.
Palmones floated last month a similar policy to Chan’s in an attempt to help nip in the bud the threat posed to Filipinos by the more virulent Delta variant of COVID-19.
“The national government may even compel civil servants to get vaccinated to protect public health and welfare. I don’t believe it’s a human rights issue,” the AGHAM official added.