Vaccine mandate for on-site workers draws opposition

The mandate took effect this month, with critics branding it unethical

Vaccine mandate for on-site workers draws opposition

The mandatory vaccination for on-site workers in the Philippines is facing opposition from lawmakers as it begins taking effect this month. The mandate, which is enforced by two resolutions from the country's Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), states that workers who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 will need to start paying for their own regular RT-PCR tests.

Lawmakers from the country's House of Representatives called on the IATF to suspend the implementation of the mandate as various groups called the resolutions enforcing them as confusing. One party-list representative said there was no clear presentation on the mandate, and it was not consulted properly to the affected workers.

The Makayan bloc also filed a resolution asking President Rodrigo Duterte to repeal the mandate, saying that it is unethical especially if there is discrimination against those unvaccinated. Requiring unvaccinated workers to pay for regular testing is also an additional burden for them, according to the group.

Read more: Philippines labour officials issue '13th month' pay guidelines

A similar call was made in the country's Senate, as Senator Risa Hontiveros calls on the IATF to be recalled. According to Hontiveros, it is not right for the government to make unvaccinated workers pay for COVID-19 tests given that their salaries are not enough. Instead, the government, employers, and associations should encourage workers to get vaccinated instead of punishing them.

She added that consultations with affected sectors should be made, and the health and welfare of workers should be prioritised without forcing or threatening them to get vaccinated.

The vaccine mandate for on-site workers began taking effect this month. Eduardo Año, secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, admitted that the government really designed the policy to force workers to get vaccinated.

President Duterte previously said that he would support expanded mandatory vaccinations should the IATF decide to make it a requirement.

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