Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T Eleazar warned a group of anti-vaxxers for holding protest action in Manila purposely to defy the public health safety protocol being implemented by the national government to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and reportedly to convince the pubic not to get inoculated.
He was reacting to the rally held by the members of the group Gising Maharlika at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila to oppose the vaccination program of the national government. Most of them were not wearing face masks in an apparent bid to emphasize that they do not believe in the coronavirus.
Eleazar stressed that while the PNP respects the belief of some individuals and groups not to believe on COVID-19 and the vaccination, he said they should also learn to respect the belief of most number of Filipino people who abide with the minimum public health safety and other rules to ensure their protection from the deadly virus.
“Nirerespeto namin ang paniniwala ng ilan nating kababayan na hindi maniwala na may COVID at hindi maniwala sa bakuna, pero matuto din sana kayong igalang ang paniniwala ng mas maraming bilang ng mga Pilipino, kabilang na ang mga namatayan at nahawa at lalong lalo na ang ating mga healthcare workers na nasa frontline ng laban na ito (We respect your opinion not to believe in COVID and on the vaccination, but you should also respect the belief of most number of Filipinos, including those whose loved ones died, who were infected, and mostly especially the healthcare workers who have been on the frontline in this fight),” said Eleazar.
“Holding protest actions to insist on what you believe in does not make it right. It is but plain and simple acts of defiance and irresponsibility because you are putting our personnel and other civilian population at risk of being infected,” he added.
Eleazar explained that policemen from the Manila Police District did not arrest the protesters as part of maximum tolerance and respect to their freedom to hold protest action.
The Manila City government has an ordinance against holding protest action in time of the pandemic.
“Binabalaan ko kayo na maaring hindi na kayo pagbigyan kapag inulit pa ninyo ang pambabastos sa paniniwala ng karamihan nating kababayan at pambabastos ninyo sa mga patakaran ng public health (I warning you that you may be in trouble next time for openly disrespecting our rules on public health,” said Eleazar.
He said that the PNP will strictly monitor if there will be protest actions by those anti-vaccine groups and individuals that would violate the minimum public health standard. Local police chiefs are tasked to check the situation on the ground regarding possible mass actions wherein the protesters would deliberately not wear face masks and violate the public health safety protocols.
The inoculation program of the government continues with the continuing arrival of vaccine supplies in the country. The Philippine government aims to increase its COVID-19 vaccination rate to 90 percent so the country could reach herd immunity early next year.