IATF responds to alleged mandatory vaccination rule

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 8) —  A co-chairperson of the country's pandemic response task force on Wednesday denied it released a directive requiring COVID-19 vaccination for onsite workers.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday, IATF co-chair Karlo Nograles responded to a newspaper report which stated that a complaint has been filed against the task force and the Supreme Court for allegedly requiring onsite employees to get their shots.

"Kung titingnan natin ‘yung resolution na pinalabas ng IATF [If we’ll look at the resolution issued by the IATF] there is nothing there that says it’s mandatory," Nograles said.

"Even the language itself is very clear. Nakalagay doon sa mga resolution namin na [It's stated in our resolutions that] it's not mandatory, it’s not a basis for termination as well," he added.

Nograles said none of the task force members have seen the complaint yet and will wait for the court to formally get their response before further commenting on the matter. He also maintained that all IATF resolutions are "legal and constitutional."

"Lahat ng pinag-uusapan namin sa [In everything that we discuss in IATF], we really get the input not just of health experts but even the legal experts to make sure that the letter, the intent and what is written in the IATF resolution passed the test of being legal and constitutional," he said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros and some congressmen earlier raised concern regarding IATF Resolutions 148-B and 149, which cover vaccination in workplaces.

Resolution 148-B states that: "In areas where there are sufficient supplies of COVID-19 vaccines as determined by the National Vaccines Operation Center (NVOC), all establishments and employers in the public and private sector shall require their eligible employees who are tasked to do on-site work to be vaccinated against COVID-19."

It added that unvaccinated employees "may not be terminated solely by reason thereof."

Meanwhile, Resolution 149 partly reads that "all partially vaccinated employees in the public and private sector tasked to do onsite work need not undergo regular RT-PCR test at their own expense, as long as their second dose is not yet due pursuant to the interval prescribed for the brand of vaccine received as first dose."

RELATED: PH requires COVID-19 vaccination of on-site staff, but termination not allowed 

President Rodrigo Duterte recently reiterated the government can invoke its police power to require the public to get their anti-coronavirus shots, in order to protect the general population against the more transmissible Omicron COVID-19 variant.

More than 38 million Filipinos have received their full COVID-19 shots to date.