Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: November 08, 2021 10:52 AM GMT
A volunteer medical worker prepares to administer the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine to tricycle drivers during a vaccination drive in Manila on July 20. (Photo: AFP)
A group of people claiming to be members of a movement against the Philippine government’s anti-Covid policies have threatened to sue officials from local authorities implementing vaccination drives.
The group claimed on Nov. 8 that the inoculation programs were “unscientific and extreme” and being forced on people, thereby violating a person's right to choose what happens to their body.
The mayor of Cagayan de Oro in the Mindanao region, Oscar Moreno, said he received a threatening letter questioning the government’s vaccine policies.
“I thought it was a joke. I was sent a cease and desist letter as well as a notice of liability saying the province’s inoculation program was not legal and scientifically questionable,” Moreno told the Inquirer daily on Nov. 6.
The same group sent similar letters to officials in Misamis Oriental province, also in Mindanao, saying they should stop vaccinations as they were being “fraudulent and murderous.”
Provincial governor Yevgeny Emano said he was called a fraud and criminal for purportedly depriving the people of their right to choose.
It’s a mere scrap of paper that has no legal or factual basis. It doesn’t deserve to be dignified
“They described administering the jabs as worse than extrajudicial killings and genocide,” Emano also told the Inquirer.
Manila mayor and presidential candidate Isko Moreno Domagoso was also allegedly threatened.
Domagoso claimed the group gave him three days to stop vaccinations in Manila or face a lawsuit, calling the project “genocide.” He said the the letter was preposterous.
“It’s a mere scrap of paper that has no legal or factual basis. It doesn’t deserve to be dignified,” Moreno said on Facebook.
Similar letters were received by officials and politicians in northern Luzon and the central Visayas region.
“There are about 1,000 of us in one province in Mindanao alone. We want our right to choose and our choices to be respected,” said Mario Jucaban, a member of the anti-vaxxer group. "We don’t want anti-Covid rules imposed on us.”
Bishop Rex Ramirez of Navl, however, disagreed with the group, saying getting the Covid-19 vaccine is a moral choice for Catholics as it protects those who have comorbidities.
He described the vaccine as a “gift” that should be availed for the common good.
“If the vaccine is for us a gift, then by receiving it we can also give to others, especially those who are the most vulnerable,” Bishop Ramirez told Catholic-run Radyo Veritas.
The prelate pointed out what Pope Francis said after getting vaccinated, which was for people to do the same as a contribution to the common good and “a manifestation of Christian concern.”
“It is not an option; it is an ethical action. Because you are playing with your health, you are playing with your life, but you are also playing with the lives of others,” Bishop Ramirez said, quoting the pope.
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