Local residents troop to a vaccination site set up at Robinsons Mall Ilocos during the first day of the national COVID-19 vaccination drive. At least 1,000 residents were targeted for inoculation at the mall. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Information Agency- Ilocos Norte)

Local residents troop to a vaccination site set up at a mall in Ilocos Norte during the first day of the national COVID-19 vaccination drive. At least 1,000 residents were targeted for inoculation at the mall. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Information Agency- Ilocos Norte)

MANILA, Philippines — Local government units have the discretion to issue their respective ordinances mandating COVID-19 vaccination, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said on Tuesday.

According to Año, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases is discussing whether COVID-19 vaccination in the country could be made mandatory.

“‘Yan ay isa sa mga tinatalakay natin. Ang gusto talaga ng Pangulo [Rodrigo Duterte] ay magkaroon ng mandatory vaccination. Pero, unang-una, wala pa tayong batas na na-legislate diyan,” he said on Teleradyo’s Sakto.

(This is one of the matters that we are discussing. What the President wants is to mandate vaccination. However, we do not have any legislation on that yet.)

“Pero ang ating mga local chief executives sa kanilang autonomous power bilang local chief executives, at ito naman base sa Section 16 ng Local Government Code, pwede silang mag-issue ng tinatawag nating mga executive orders at ordinances na i-mandatory ‘yung pagbabakuna,” he added.

(But, our local chief executives with their autonomous power, based on Section 16 of the Local Government Code, may issue executive orders and ordinances to mandate vaccination.)

Although, local chief executives could just restrict the movement and add requirements for unvaccinated individuals, if they prefer, Año said.

“Pwede pa rin naman na ang gawin na lang ay talagang i-restrict natin ‘yung movement ng hindi pa nababakunahan para din sa kanilang kaligtasan kasama na rin diyan ‘yung pagre-require ng RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test kapag sila ay pupunta sa isang partikular na lugar para sa kanilang kaligtasan din,” he chief said.

(We could just restrict the movement of the unvaccinated, for their safety, and they may be required to present an RT-PCR test if they will go to certain places for their protection.)

Further, Año noted that the simplest way to avoid COVID-19 infection is for the people to get their vaccine, especially now that the threat of the Omicron variant looms.

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