Duterte defends companies' 'right' to reject unvaccinated job applicants

Published November 10, 2021, 12:13 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

President Duterte thinks that it’s legal for employers not to hire job applicants on the basis of their not being vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

President Rodrigo Duterte (Malacañang photo)

Dutere, a lawyer, aired his comments on the matter on late Tuesday night, Nov. 9 during his pre-recorded “Talk to the People” public briefing.

“I think it’s legal for employers not to accept people who are not vaccinated,” he said.

“Tama sila (They’re right). I agree with them, and as a lawyer, sabihin ko, mukhang tama ang ginawa ninyo (I would say, it looks like you did the right thing). You’re just protecting business and other people. So what’s–what could be the legal argument against it?” asked Duterte.

But before this, the Chief Executive clarified that he agreed with the stand of labor law experts–as repeatedly affirmed by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)–that active employees cannot be sacked for not being inoculated from COVID-19.

“As a lawyer I would say, na kung nandyan ka na sa trabaho mo at ayaw mo magpabakuna (if you’re already in your job and you don’t want to get vaccinated), well that is too bad for the employer. But sabi ng mga (according to) labor lawyers, [they] strongly say that hindi pwede na paalisin mo kung ayaw magpabakuna (you cannot be fired if you don’t want to get vaccinated). That would be a violation of the law. And I think I agree with it,” Duterte said.

“Your problem is yung papasok kayo (Your problem is in entering the company), [if] you’ll seek employment and then one of the reasons that would be asked of you by the prospective employer would be kung bakunado ka (whether or not you’re vaccinated),” he pointed out.

“Kung hindi ka bakunado, hindi ka tanggapin sa trabaho (If you’re not vaccinated, then you won’t be hired). I think that is legal,” reckoned Duterte.

According to him, an employer has the right to refuse to accept as an employee an unvaccinated person who could potentially contaminate the workplace with the coronavirus.

“It could mean a loss or stoppage or whatever, kung puro nagkasakit na (if everybody gets sick). In this case, you are all protecting your property, your investments, your business. And second is that you’re protecting your employees of…because you cannot be contaminated again,” the President said.

Duterte said COVID-19 has the capacity to infect a person over and over again, thus putting other people at risk.

However, he claimed that having the vaccine in one’s body would lessen the severity of infection each time the individual contracts COVID-19.

The national government has been saying for the past few weeks that it has abundant supply of the life-saving vaccines.

For months now, there has been a raging public debate on the propriety of limiting the movement or opportunities given to unvaccinated individuals compared to their vaccinated counterparts.

The Philippines rolled out its mass vaccination program against COVID-19 last March 1, 2021.