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FROM face shields to arresting those who refuse to be vaccinated.

After the confusion on whether face shields should still be worn inside and outside the premises or not, now comes the question on the legality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to arrest those who will refuse vaccination.

Presidential chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo says it is legal to arrest persons who would refuse to be vaccinated.

However, this runs contrary to the position of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, hinted at getting a vaccine as a legal choice and cited government policy on the need to inform and get consent of an individual before the vaccine can be legally administered.

However, Panelo cited Article 2, Sections 5 and 15 of the Constitution, which states that “the maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, and the promotion of the general welfare, among others, are essential to democracy” and that the State should “protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”

We are in a state of national emergency due to the deathly pandemic. Drastic times demand for drastic measures. The Constitution has given sufficient authority to the government to manage the crisis as it works vigorously towards achieving herd immunity,” Panelo said in a statement.

The order of the President is not without any constitutional basis. Constitutional provisions on public health, by themselves, are operative and need no subsequent legislation for their enforcement,” he added.

In an apparent bid to further firm up his argument, Panelo also invoked the Supreme Court ruling on the 2014 case of Imbong v. Ochoa questioning the legality of the Reproductive Health law, wherein the High Court ruled that the provisions of the Constitution relating to the promotion of health are self-executory and do not require any enabling law.

Individual choice or liberties are to be respected but the security of the nation is paramount. Hence, its survival must be fiercely protected,” Panelo further averred.

Panelo’s stance also went against that of presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. who also said that a law is needed to punish those who will refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The President, in a public address, said he will arrest those who refuse to get a vaccine against COVID-19 and inject the vaccine on their butt. 

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