COVID vax mandate is up to Congress, says Nograles

Published November 30, 2021, 1:09 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress to decide whether or not it will craft a law that would make coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination mandatory in the country.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (Photo from Karlo Nograles’s Facebook)

“Kailangan po ng batas. Mas magiging ano yan, mas magkakaroon ng mandatory enforcement pag meron pong batas mula sa Congress at mapirmahan ni Pangulong Duterte (A law is needed. That will have mandatory enforcement if there is a law from Congress that President Duterte will sign),” Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a televised interview Tuesday, Nov. 30.

On Monday night during his pre-recorded “Talk to the People” public briefing, President Duterte said that he would be inclined to approve a proposal to make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory should the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) come up with one.

Nograles is the spokesperson of the IATF, which has served as the Philippines’ main policy-making body when it comes to dealing with the pandemic and its effects.

“So it is up to Conrgess to pass a law if they feel the need na kinakailangang magkaroon ng batas to make it mandatory (the need to make it mandatory). As far as IATF is concerned, patuloy pa rin naman ang amin pagme-meeting tungkol dyan at paguusap tungkol sa proposal na yan (our meetings and discussions on that proposal are continuous),” he said.

By “Congress”, Nograles was referring to the House of Representatives and the Senate–the two chambers of Philippine legislature. Nograles is a former House member, having represented Davao City for three terms.

Mandatory vaccination can be a touchy issue since there are individuals who shun COVID-19 shots for deep personal reasons despite their proven life-saving properties.

Nogales said the IATF has in its fold “legal luminaries and legal experts” as well as agency officials who are experts on legal issues.

“So, we continue to process that at patuloy yung tuloy-tuloy na pinag-uusapan ang option na yan (and we also continue to discuss that option),” he noted.