MANILA – Administration Sen. Francis Tolentino has cautioned employers over plans to impose a mandatory inoculation policy for its personnel before returning to work amid the arrival of the first COVID-19 vaccine shipment in the country.
Tolentino made the remarks amid complaints from various labor groups that some employers and business owners, particularly those in the private sector are allegedly requiring their employees to avail themselves of company-sponsored vaccination activities or be barred in their respective workplaces.
Tolentino stressed that the so-called “No Vaccine, No Work Policy” is illegal under the National COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, which was signed into law last week by President Rodrigo Duterte last week.
According to Tolentino, the new law has put in place safeguards to spare Filipinos from additional burden. The COVID-19 vaccine card, a crucial part of the government’s nationwide vaccination rollout, will not be considered a mandatory requirement in educational, employment, and similar government transaction purposes.
Section 12 of Republic Act No. 11525 that COVID-19 vaccine cards “shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for education, employment, and other similar government transaction purposes.”
The provision which was an amendment introduced by Tolentino prior to the law’s passage in the Senate proscribes discriminatory acts that may be directed against non-inoculated persons and which could lead to possible violations of basic human rights.
The Tolentino amendment safeguards students, regular employees, OFWs, and others from discrimination resulting from non-inoculation.
In guarding against possible prejudicial acts, Section 12 mandates that the COVID-19 vaccination should not be made a precondition for entitlement to necessary services or a basis for preferential acts.
“Inoculation should not be a determinant whether a person is fit or unfit for work. Neither should it be made a prerequisite for acceptance in any educational institutions nor in the availment of government services,” said Tolentino.
The senator explained that since inoculation is still not legislated as mandatory in the country, the said provision is a fair and just inclusion to the government’s vaccination program. (JCC)