Groups ask SC to void mandatory vaccination issuances

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A PETITION was filed before the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking to stop the implementation of all government issuances and policies imposing mandatory vaccination against Covid-19 for being unconstitutional.

The 173-page petition was filed by an alliance from various civic groups including Covid Call to Humanity (CCH), Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDCPh), Legal Lightworkers for Life and Liberty (L4) and Juan Dakila (JD) Movement.

The petitioners, which include a Covid-19 vaccine-injured employee, doctors, scientists, religious leaders, government and private sector employees, and public school teachers, are also asking the Court for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or a writ of preliminary injunction as an immediate relief.

Former University of the Philippines College Law Dean Pacifico Agabin, one of the country’s leading experts on constitutional law, will lead the 11-person legal team that the petitioners tasked to defend the petition.

Named respondents by the petitioners were the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Interior and Local Secretary Eduardo Año, Education Secretary Leonor Briones and Makati City represented by Mayor Mar-Len Abigail Binay.

The petitioners singled out IATF Resolution 148-B as among the government’s issuances that should be declared null and void.

Based on IATF Resolution 148-B issued on November 11, 2021, on-site workers are required to be fully vaccinated.

Under the resolution, on-site workers who remain unvaccinated should not be terminated but must take RT-PCR tests regularly at their own expense. The said IATF resolution also bars unvaccinated individuals from boarding and riding public transportation subject to certain exceptions.

Also being sought to be nullified are IATF Resolution No. 148-G November 17, 2021;IATF Resolution No. 149 dated November 18, 2021; IATF Resolution No. 150 dated November 25, 2021; IATF Resolution No. 155 dated December 31, 2021; IATF Resolution No. 163 dated February 24, 2022; IATF Resolution No. 164 dated March 11, 2022; IATF Guidelines on the Nationwide Implementation of Alert Level System for Covid-19 Response as of February 27, 2022 dated February 27, 2022; DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2022-002 dated January 18, 2022; DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2022-008 dated January 31, 2022; Department of  Transportation Order No. 2022-001 dated January 11, 2022; Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Memorandum Circular No. 2022-001 dated January 12, 2022; Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Resolution No. 22-01, series of 2022;  Departments of Health and Education Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Series of 2022 issued on April 6, 2022; DOH Department Memorandum No. 2022-0013; DOH Department Circular No. 2022-0131; Makati City Ordinance No. 2022-005 enacted on January 12, 2022.

The petitioners also asked the Court to issue a writ of mandamus directing the respondents to ensure that persons who submit for vaccination do so “freely, voluntarily, and intelligently” after a written acknowledgment that they have been advised of all the possible side effects of the vaccines on their health.

Likewise, the petitioners said the respondents should be ordered to take public all the officially recognized side effects of the vaccines and all adverse events reported after vaccination, and to ensure that such information is widely disseminated through various forms of media.

The assailed regulations, according to the petitioners, violate the provisions of the Constitution that guarantees due process, right to equal protection of the law, right to security and privacy, right to religious freedom, and right to freedom of movement and travel.

“These freedoms are not suspended just because there is an existing public health emergency. All citizens are still entitled to attend religious gatherings, political rallies, and organizational activities, to the extent allowed by the prevailing alert level classification and subject to the observance of reasonable health protocols,” the petitioners said.

“By allowing the unvaccinated only to procure essential goods and services outside their residences, the assailed regulations and ordinances fail to account for these other freedoms, which are essential to the enjoyment of a life lived with dignity,” they added.

A similar petition was earlier filed by the Passengers and Riders Organization (Pasahero) party-list seeking to declare the “no vaccination, no ride” policy and other government measures that tend to discriminate against Filipinos who remain unvaccinated against Covid-19 as unconstitutional.

“We hope that the Supreme Court will be open and take judicial notice of the massive amount of legal evidence against mandatory vaccination that we have presented. If the people feel that the government leaders have failed them, they should still be able to rely on the courts to uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” the petitioners argued.