Unvaccinated has rights but also has limits—DOJ

By: Tetch Torres-Tupas - Inquirer.net | January 19,2022 - 07:40 AM
Unvaccinated has rights but it has limits—DOJ

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. Image from PCOO / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines—Like any other unvaccinated person, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta can opt-out of anti-COVID vaccination because no such law exists. But, he said such rights have limits.

Guevarra said that the State has the power to regulate the movement of the unvaccinated persons in the interest of public health or public safety “for the benefit not only of the vaccinated but also of the unvaccinated.”

“In short, a person may refuse to get vaccinated for his/her own personal reasons, but he/she is duty-bound to obey reasonable state regulations affecting unvaccinated persons for the benefit of society at large,” the DOJ chief said.

Acosta, in an interview over ANC’s Headstart on Monday, admitted that she is not vaccinated.

She said she is having “second thoughts.” She will wait for a protein-based vaccine which, according to the World Health Organization, uses harmless fragments of proteins or protein shells that mimic the COVID-19 virus to safely generate an immune response.

Furthermore, she said she is hesitant to get vaccinated because of health concerns.

Acosta appealed earlier to the local government units not to discriminate against the unvaccinated.

READ: PAO chief appeals to LGUs: Don’t discriminate the unvaccinated

No discrimination, No restriction

Unvaccinated persons are not prohibited from traveling, but their access to public transportation is restricted subject to certain exceptions and only in areas where the alert level for COVID-19 infection is high.

“More than three out of four who get hospitalized are unvaccinated and more than three out of four who die of Covid-19 are unvaccinated,” Guevarra said.

The DOJ chief said that while public transport is open for everyone, operators of common carriers “are bound to carry their passengers safely to their destinations, and safely means freedom not only from accidental injury but also from transmissible diseases.”

But he explained that as long as the unvaccinated “have passes to show that they are out to obtain essential goods and services, such as food and medicine, or that they have medical certifications showing that they could not be vaccinated for medical or health reasons,” they can take public transport.

Like Guevarra, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) also clarified that workers are also exempt from the “no vax, no ride policy.”

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