By Billy Begas
Cavite Rep. Elpidio ‘Pidi’ Barzaga Jr. has proposed the passage of a law that will protect individuals who received COVID-19 vaccines against those who refuse to be vaccinated.
Barzaga said under the Constitution’s General Welfare clause, “the State is mandated to make rules and regulations to protect the lives of the majority of its citizens. A person who is not vaccinated is a risk to the lives of others and to the general community.”
“While others might argue that such law shall be discriminatory – discriminating those vaccinated against those non-vaccinated- nonetheless there shall be no violation of the constitutional rights to due process and equal protection clause. Every individual therefore to avoid adverse consequences must allow themselves to be vaccinated,” Barzaga explained.
Barzaga said that “little do we realize that getting vaccinated protects us and the people around us, particularly people who are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.”
The president of the National Unity Party said that based on results of surveys the number of those who want to be vaccinated will not be enough to reach the herd immunity.
A survey by the University of the Philippines-OCTA research team last February showed that only 19% are willing to be vaccinated, 46% are unwilling and 35% are undecided.
Barzaga pointed out that while the Constitution guarantees the right to life of every individual, “such right is subservient to the paramount interest of the lives of the greater majority.”
Article II, Section 5 of the Constitution (Declaration of Principles and State Policies), Barzaga said states that “The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.”
Under the general welfare clause, Barzaga said it would be legal and constitutionally accepted for an employer to issue a policy that only vaccinated applicants can be employed.
He said malls, restaurants, hotels, private parks and similar places can impose a regulation that only those vaccinated shall be permitted to enter.
Barzaga argued that the State has no option but to protect those who are vaccinated. He noted that the average direct medical cost is at least P400,00 for a four-day stay in the hospital by a patient suffering mild COVID-19.
“Unfortunately, this financial cost is nowhere near the total harm caused by the pandemic. A great number of us are fearful of getting infected. We are subjected to restrictions on mobility but we all know that these measures are not enough. Social distancing, masking, basic COVID-19 protocols work but vaccination is an important key to stop this pandemic,” added Barzaga.