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MANILA, Nov 8 (Mabuhay) — The Commission on Human Rights said Sunday that mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 could only be done under certain circumstances to ensure that no human rights should be violated.

CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said that imposing mandatory vaccination is a complicated issue because we need to make sure that human rights are protected.

As a general rule, she said, vaccination should be voluntary, until the government ensures that vaccines are available, accessible, and sufficient in quantity, otherwise it will result in discrimination.

“As a general rule, voluntary muna, hanggat masigurado natin na may sapat na bilang ng vaccine, available, at accessible ito sa lahat ng parte ng bansa. Otherwise it will result in discrimination.”

Pressed on the issue on the general welfare as against the rights of some people and the use of police power to enforce vaccination, De Guia said there are requirements to be fulfilled if we are going to entertain the idea.

Citing the Siracusa principles on the derogation of some rights, she said , “the government can temporarily suspend human rights in times of public emergency, and within a limited period of time.”

Given that COVI-19 is a public emergency, the next question is, “is the vaccine mandate necessary, is it legal? Kailangan ang batas. Hindi puwedeng sasabihin lang ng pamahalaan na kahit walang batas pede na,” De Guia pointed out.

Moreover, she said that the law should define the general rules and set the exceptions because there are exceptions, such as medical conditions, religion, among others.

She also clarified that mandatory doesn’t mean absolute. “Mandatory in the sense that  paggusto mo, pede kang magpabakuna, tapos may consequences kung hindi ka magpabakuna.”

Mandatory means people should still have a choice as in the requirement for mandatory drug test for all those who want to renew their driver’s license. “You have a choice not to be tested for drugs” or forget about renewing your license.

As with the proposal to have mandatory vaccination of beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), she said, “pwedeng gawin pero dapat may exceptions, kailangan may batas, necessary siya, with limitations of time” and subject to scrutiny or checking. (MNS)

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