Cebu News

DILG asks Cebu City to recant ‘anti-unvaccinated’ policy

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Interior undersecretary Epimaco Densing said local government units like Cebu City cannot implement any policy that will restrict the movement of non-vaccinated individuals and give leeway for those who have already been vaccinated.

“It cannot happen right now. The government cannot implement such a policy. The Department of Justice has given its own opinion na until everyone is given the opportunity to be vaccinated then we cannot impose bakuna bubbles,” Densing said.

Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama was, however, quick to defend Executive Order 142 or the Oplan Puyo 9-8-30 which contained provisions giving incentive of sorts to vaccinated individuals to be allowed to dine in and avail of some services, a perk deprived of the unvaccinated.

Rama, who said he has not spoken to Densing, said he is not going to argue with the DILG on the matter. However, he said that even the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases did not say that LGUs cannot add to its guidelines.

Densing, in an interview with ONE News yesterday, disclosed that he will ask Rama to recant his executive order that imposes the bakuna bubble that allows for vaccinated individuals to go out for leisure and entertainment purposes, including grooming and dining in services.

Issued on September 2, the EO entitles individuals who have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to the incentive.

“We’ll have to coordinate with the mayor to recant and amend that EO. There are more than a number of mayors who did that and we asked them to recant,” Densing said.

In justifying the EO, Rama said: “Dili mi mangaway sa DILG. Ikaduha, dili sad mi mangaway sa IATF. Pero sa IATF wala man na sila moingo’g dili pwede ang LGU mobuhat og additional, wala man. So, therefore, mao nay giingon nga what is not excluded is then included,” said Rama.

Rama said he does not see anything illegal about it.

“Mismo ang mga kompanya may nag-ingon ana, that it should be incorporated. Kanang akong executive order, dili ra man na akoa, ato man na,” said Rama.

By “ato”, Rama meant it involved different sectors, including the IATF Visayas chief implementer and vaccine czar Melquiades Feliciano, the Department of Health, the Philippine National Police, the chamber of commerce, church representatives, the hotel and restaurants association, the city government’s executive division representative, hospital administrators among others.

Rama also said the focus on giving privileges to vaccinated individuals is only on dine-in and personal services.

“Dili man ingon nga dili naka kasud sa mall. It is not a general requirement; it is not even my requirement. It was suggested and incorporated kay nakakita man ko sa wisdom,” said Rama.

He said establishments have also suggested it to protect their own workers knowing that their business will have to be closed once workers test positive.

Rama said what the city is doing is a balancing act between health and economy.

According to Rama, there are now 500,000 individuals in Cebu City who have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

It would also be unfair for the vaccinated ones, he said, that the unvaccinated be roaming around and possibly become a vector for transmission.

Rama even said the Metro Manila mayor is even following some provisions of his EO.

“It is not fair that the few dictate the many because there are supposed to be a government for the greater good for the greater number. Number 2, we are a government where the general welfare is the supreme law and we are a government where the voice of the people is the voice of God. Kung ang atoa na-vaccinated na over 50%, wala tay problema,” said Rama.

More vaccines available

Rama also disclosed that there is now vaccines available so there is no more excuse for the unvaccinated not to get the shot.

“Let’s go for a paradigm shift. Dili man ni kay just nationally is going to be handled. Local chief executives are very important ani. You know, layo na kaayong national...Regulation vital to the protection of public health is a compelling government interest that satisfies the strict scrutiny test when there is an alleged violation of the equal protection of clause,” Rama said. — JMD (FREEMAN)

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