The need for House Bill 9252
Although it would appear that Filipinos are eager to be inoculated as shown in various sites where they were shoulder to shoulder shoving and pushing each other toward the entrance doors of vaccination centers, their motive remains wrong.
They want to be vaccinated because they were misled into believing that it is a pre-requisite before receiving their ayuda from the government. They were told if they do not have themselves jabbed, they will not be allowed to leave their homes nor will they be permitted to report for work. If it was by fear that they braved the rain and the cramped-up spaces to take their chance of being vaccinated, even if there were only so much of the vials to accommodate a few.
Given the protocol on social distancing was obviously breached, it was a disaster, alright. This kind of disaster will persist if the government will not come out with a comprehensive plan to require people to be vaccinated because it is necessary, it being their civic obligation, rather than a simple enticement for their survival needs.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. has a proposal. He passed House Bill 9252, making it mandatory for all qualified Filipinos to have themselves injected with the anti-Covid-19 vaccine without regard to brand or source.
In the bill, the penalty for persons who will not voluntarily have themselves vaccinated is they “shall not be allowed to enter, convene, or occupy public spaces, whether or not government or privately owned.”
Barzaga has reasoned the bill is urgent to counter the wrong notion prevailing among a number of our populace that vaccination is not the solution against the pandemic. It is indeed drastic, although it is the only way to reach the desired “herd immunity” within the self-imposed deadline made by the Department of Health.
HB 9252 is still to be calendared for first reading in Congress and yet, it is already under threats from various quarters desiring to test its constitutionality. It is claimed that to be vaccinated or not is a matter of choice. It is guaranteed under the provisions of the Constitution, specifically on the right of privacy and freedom of choice. It is likened to a religion where one’s belief in a savior depends upon his faith.
Believe me that despite the overwhelming archeological, historical, and spiritual evidences on the divinity of Jesus Christ, there are still many who choose not to believe in Him. It is the same with the anti-Covid-19 vaccine.
Despite the overwhelming scientific evidences on its efficacy, there are those who disregard the evidences and remain steadfast in their refusal to be vaccinated. Hence, to force a person to believe in the efficacy of the vaccine is like imposing a dogma that is not in accordance with his faith. How do you contend with that?
In France, President Emmanuel Macron has imposed a decree that those who are not vaccinated shall not be allowed to enter public places. Neither shall they be allowed to transact with any commercial or government establishments. Any violation will penalize not only the unvaccinated individual but the entity that provided the service or commodity as well.
The decree created a whirlwind of protests and Italians are up in arms against their leader for imposing such a strict lockdown. According to them, the decree is discriminatory and makes a pariah (rejects of society) out of those who believe otherwise. Hopefully, this kind of reaction will not happen in our country.
Another problem that confronts HB 9252 is the availability of vaccines. No matter how noble its intentions may be, if there are not enough supplies to accommodate those willing to be administered, the law becomes an empty promise. The practicality and acceptability of the law fully depends on the ratio of the available vaccines with the people who must benefit from it.
Regardless of the challenges that HB 9252 will inevitably encounter, it is an important legislation that is needed if we are to triumph against the pandemic. Regardless of what the pessimists say, the law requiring mandatory vaccination against Covid-19 is significant if we want our country and our lives to normalize.
So, pass the bill into law as soon as possible.