The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday said preventing unvaccinated individuals from leaving their homes could result in unjust discrimination.

CHR spokesman Jacqueline Ann de Guia. Photo from CHR FB Page
CHR spokesman Jacqueline Ann de Guia. Photo from CHR FB Page
"There are reasons for being unvaccinated that are beyond their control. The country has yet to vaccinate other priority groups, including indigent populations not covered by the A1-A4 category." CHR spokesman Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement.

During a briefing on Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted policemen and barangay (village) officials to stop people who refuse to be vaccinated from leaving their homes to prevent them from becoming "walking spreaders" of Covid-19.

De Guia said such a restriction will affect the unvaccinated individuals' "abilities to cope with the effects of the pandemic, including effects to livelihoods and ability to fend for themselves in the absence of explicit proposals for aid while in isolation."

Impeding human rights in times of an emergency, such as a pandemic, must not only be based on necessity but must also be lawful and proportionate to its goal, she said, citing the Siracusa Principles, guidelines adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1984.

On Friday, Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), allayed fears that unvaccinated individuals will be stopped from leaving their homes.

Eleazar said the President was just stressing the need for everyone to get inoculated.

"We understand the sentiment of our President as the father of our country and we know that this is just a way to encourage some of our countrymen who continue to doubt the effectiveness of the vaccine," he said in Filipino.

He urged the public to listen to the advice of health experts about the efficiency of Covid vaccines.

The PNP will continue to help convince more Filipinos to get vaccinated, while strictly implementing quarantine regulations, Eleazar said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said it was not the time to differentiate between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated and warned of legal implications.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Congress needs to pass a law to confine unvaccinated people to their homes.

But Drilon added it is also correct to encourage the unvaccinated to stay home, and the process of escorting them back to their homes is a reasonable exercise of police power to protect public health.

"In its exercise of police power, the government can impose regulations to promote the general welfare and public interest, including public health. That said, the law must be reasonably necessary to accomplish the government's purpose and it must not be arbitrary or oppressive," he said.

Congress has to weigh the measure being proposed against those standards because many people remain unvaccinated not out of their own choice, Drilon said.

"Some areas have limited access to vaccines, slow roll or the vaccines available are not what the people prefer. Again, the measure must be reasonable and not oppressive," he said.

With RED MENDOZA and JAVIER JOE ISMAEL