Hontiveros: IATF rules requiring vaccination for on-site workers unfair, against policy

Hontiveros: IATF rules requiring vaccination for on-site workers unfair, against policy
File photo from 2018 shows Senator Risa Hontiveros.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — Pandemic task force resolutions requiring vaccination in some workplaces are unfair and contrary to Department of Labor policy, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Friday.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease has issued resolutions directing employers in areas where there are enough supplies of COVID-19 vaccines to require on-site workers to be vaccinated.

Under IATF Resolution 148-B, eligible employees who have not yet been vaccinated will be required to take COVID-19 tests at their own expense.

"IATF's resolution defies the DOLE Advisory on the 'no vaccine, no work' policy," Hontiveros said, adding the task force should have held more consultations to come up with policies that would benefir workers more.

READ: DOLE probes firms with ‘no vaccine, no work’ policy

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, however, has softened on that position, saying in October that the IATF resolutions grant the policy legal basis.

"It is not right to have them shoulder the cost of the COVID-19 tests if they are unvaccinated when they hardly earn enough to support themselves," Hontiveros said in Filipino. "Government, employers and employee associations should encourage them to get vaccinated instead of punishing them."

According to a Social Weather Stations poll released in early November, 64% of respondents said they were willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This was a considerable increase from 45% in a similar survey in June.  

Trust in vaccines in the Philippines had decreased even before the COVID-19 pandemic because of controversy surrounding the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine, which was found to be less effective than initially thought.

Government lawyers have also filed cases alleging the vaccine was linked to the deaths of several children, an allegation that drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur, the Department of Health and the Philippine General Hospital have refuted.

The Philippines does not have a law requiring vaccination, although President Rodrigo Duterte has hinted that the government has the power to make vaccination mandatory. "You are a carrier and a danger to society," he also said in October of people refusing vaccination. 

The Palace said that month that there may be no need to make vaccination mandatory since more people are willing to get the jabs.

RELATED: No moves yet to mandate vaccination as Palace says 'akyat bahay' jabs just a joke

Members of the House committee on labor and employment this week said they would ask the IATF to suspend the resolutions until there is more clarity in the policy.

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