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Cases filed against anti-vaccine protesters for quarantine violations

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Cases filed against anti-vaccine protesters for quarantine violations
Anti-vaccine protesters gather at Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 to rail against government restrictions against those who have not received the shot against COVID-19.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Police District has charged six persons arrested at an anti-vaccine rally in Manila City for violations of quarantine protocols and local government ordinances. 

To recall, "more or less 150 persons" affiliated with anti-vaccination group Gising Maharlika took to the Liwasang Bonifacio Shrine in Ermita, Manila City on Tuesday to "publicly question government action against [the] COVID-19 pandemic and encourage their members to refuse vaccination."

In a spot report, the Manila Police District said that Police Lt. Col. Dionelle Brannon, Ermita Police Station commander attempted to have a dialogue with the suspects who were "initially warned about their protest action while in the present alert status but they refused to abide."

The MPD said that the rallyists refused to wear face masks or present their vaccination cards "which is clearly a violation of the said City Ordinances and violated the minimum health protocol prescribed by IATF."

Inquest proceedings for the six took place Wednesday morning. They are: 

  • Antonio Lorenzo Santillan, 29
  • Reynaldo Valeros Jr., 55 
  • Sonia Valeros, 52 
  • Albert Muyot
  • Christopher Samarita, 37
  • Dixie Anthony Parungao, 36

The charges include: 

  • Violation of RO 8627 "Requiring the Mandatory Use of Facemask in All Public Places within the City of Manila"
     
  • RO 8800 "An Ordinance Providing for the Enhanced Vaccination Mandate to Regulate the Mobility of the Unvaccinated Individuals within the Territorial Jurisdiction of the City of Manila and Providing Penalties for the Violation
     
  • RA 11332 "Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act"
     
  • Article 151 "Disobedience to Person in Authority".

Not the first time

The same group already launched similar protests in September and May of last year in what the PNP said was an "apparent bid to emphasize that they do not believe in the coronavirus."

Both instances were well-documented in the news and social media as the group trotted out tarps and placards suggesting the pandemic was "planned." The group also claimed that "so many" have died from getting vaccinated in the country. 

On Tuesday, the COVID-denying group's tarps slammed the "medical martial law" caused by the "mandatory vaccination." 

FACT CHECK: COVID-19 is real; vaccination not mandatory in Philippines

In response, the Philippine National Police let them off with a "warning" but was careful to mention that "the PNP respects the belief of some individuals and groups not to believe on COVID-19 and the vaccination."

There is no law or written policy that makes vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory. The Department of Health has stressed that vaccines that received Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration "are considered safe and effective based on the available evidence to date."

Earlier, the World Health Organization named vaccine hesitancy as one of the top threats to global health in 2019, saying it "threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable disease."

"We appeal to these groups, we understand that it is their right but we have to balance things right now as we are in midst of a pandemic. Our freedom and rights always comes with a responsibility," Police Capt. Philipp Ines, MPD spokesperson is quoted as saying in a report by state-run Philippine News Agency.

Franco Luna 

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE

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