Should there be a law on mandatory COVID vaccination? Palace sounds off

Published October 14, 2021, 6:35 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Despite the current “abundance” of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines in the country, Malacañang still isn’t keen on making vaccination mandatory among Filipinos.

The House of Representatives, dubbed the “lower chamber” in the Philippine legislature (File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Thursday, Oct. 14 that the national government would rather cater to all the Filipinos willing to get the jab first before moving the discussion to mandatory inoculation.

“The level of individuals who want to be vaccinated ‘no is already very high ‘no so baka hindi pa naman kinakailangan sa ngayon [ng mandatory vaccination] (maybe mandatory vaccination isn’t needed for now),” Roque said in a virtual press conference.

“Napakadami pong gusto nang mabakunahan at since nandiyan na po ang supply eh ubusin muna natin ‘yung gustong mabakunahan bago natin pag-isipan ‘yung pagpasa ng batas para maging mandatory po ang pagbabakuna (A lot of people now want to be vaccinated and since the vaccines are there, let’s just cater to all these willing vaccinees first before we think about a law for mandatory vaccination),” he explained.

But Roque, a former party-list congressman, noted that making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory can only happen with a law and this falls in the ambit of the legislature, not the executive.

“That’s for Congress to enact if Congress wishes so,” he said.

The Philippines began its mass vaccination program against COVID-19 on March 1, 2021. At that time, doses of the foreign-made vaccine were hard to come by, and Filipinos showed high hesitancy on getting the jab.

But for the past couple of weeks, the country has been getting successive shipments of the vaccines, to the point that the inoculation of the general population and minors—which require a specific brand of the jab–can begin.

Roque said the government’s communication arm has worked non-stop in urging Filipinos to get vaccinated and protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19.