Bantay Bakuna seeks to scrap IATF-mandated COVID-19 jabs to Filipino workers

November 26, 2021 - 1:24 PM
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COVID-19 vaccination at the Commonwealth Hospital and Medical Center in Novaliches, Quezon City on November 22, 2021 (PNA photo by Oliver Marquez)

An alliance that monitors COVID-19 vaccination rollout in the country initiated an online petition against the mandatory jabs for onsite workers.

The alliance called Bantay Bakuna denounced on Friday, November 26 the new Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No. 148-B.

In the resolution, workers who are told to work onsite are required to be inoculated or to undergo RT-PCR tests regularly at their own expense.

The provisions in the resolution will take effect on December 1.

READ: Philippines to require vaccination for employees working on-site (philstar.com)

Making vaccination a requirement to workers puts them at risk of unemployment and dismissal during an economic crisis, Bantay Bakuna said.

“Forcing workers to spend on testing in exchange for vaccination pushes them further into debt. Providing incentives to business establishments with better vaccination practices forces workers to get the jab or lose their job at the expense of their employer’s profit,” it added.

The alliance also stated this policy creates “selective freedom” to privileged places with abundant vaccine supply as compared to those who do not.

“Limiting access to transportation, and public and private establishments with preferential treatment in government services to those vaccinated creates selective freedom to those already privileged with abundant vaccine supply, leaving the rest of the population locked down and farther behind,” it said.

Bantay Bakuna further noted that this rule passes the burden of pandemic control to the Filipino workforce, rather than to the government.

“All of these absolve the government of its responsibility to control this pandemic through comprehensive, free, and accessible testing, tracing, treatment and prevention measures, and shift the burden to individual efforts once again,” it said.

At least 3,332 have already signed in the petition linked in the post. The target number of signatures is 5,000.

The questionable measure

In the IATF resolution in question, one of the measures that President Rodrigo Duterte approved involved the mandatory jabs on eligible Filipino workers.

“In areas where there are sufficient supplies of COVID-19 vaccines as determined by the National Vaccines Operation Center (NVOC), all establishments and employers in the public and private sector shall require their eligible employees who are tasked to do on-site work to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” the resolution read.

“Eligible employees who remain to be unvaccinated may not be terminated solely by reason thereof. However, they shall be required to undergo RT-PCR tests regularly at their own expense for purposes of on-site work. Provided that, antigen tests may be resorted to when RT-PCR capacity is insufficient or not immediately available,” it added.

Last August, the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Employment have strongly advised against the “no vaccine, no work” policy.

DOLE specifically stated in an advisory that this rule is not allowed.

“Any employee who refuses or fails to be vaccinated shall not be discriminated against in terms of tenure, promotion, training, pay and other benefits, among others, or terminated from employment. No vaccine, no work policy shall not be allowed,” the advisory read.

READ: ‘No vax, no work’ is illegal, DOH stresses as fake news causes panic