The president's remarks, however, seem to oppose local laws
Employers in the Philippines have the "right to refuse" employees who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, according to President Rodrigo Duterte.
"You have the right to refuse to accept as an employee somebody who is not vaccinated and would go and join the rest of the employees in the factory or whatever workplace you have," said Duterte in his weekly taped address to the public.
According to Duterte, he thinks it’s legal for employers to reject accept applicants not yet vaccinated. The Philippine president's remarks, however, contradict his Cabinet officials as well as a local law that prohibits making vaccinations a pre-condition for employment.
The country's Republic Act 11525, or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, stipulates that "vaccine cards shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment, and other similar government transaction purposes."
The country's Department of Labour also ruled in the past that requiring vaccinations for employment has no legal basis.
"The requirement that an employee must be vaccinated has no basis in law. That means, it cannot be imposed by companies," said Labour Undersecretary Ana Dione in late October.
According to Dione, this also means that employers cannot terminate employees for refusing to have the jabs. The country has already permitted the return of unvaccinated workers to the workplace, and Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the department will issue a compliance order to allow all workers to return to offices.