Consider human rights when giving vax perks

·4 min read

THE Mandaue City Vaccination Operations Center (VOC) will not recommend to the city government to allow indoor dining in food establishments only for those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 as this promotes discrimination.

This statement was made after the Cebu City government released Executive Order (EO) 138 issued by Acting Mayor Michael Rama offering additional perks for vaccinated individuals, including being allowed indoor dinning in restaurants and in establishments offering personal care services, such as spas and salons.

The Commission on Human Rights also said rights must be respected when considering perks.

Dr. Ligaya Dargantes, operations head of Mandaue VOC and the patient management team head of Emergency Operations Center (EOC), told SunStar Cebu she will not recommend to Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes that this be implemented in the city.

She said this would fall under discrimination against those who have yet to get vaccinated.

Dargantes said she acknowledges that there are still individuals who are not ready to get inoculated.

Adopting the Cebu City EO might cause conflict, she added.

“For instance, a restaurant would close their doors to the unvaccinated individuals for indoor dining. There will always be people that will object to this idea, which is difficult,” said Dargantes in Cebuano.

She also emphasized that the implementation of whether to offer dine-in or not was based on the protocols released by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

The dine-in protocol would also change depending on the community quarantine status of the city, Dargantes said.

Thus, the community quarantine status of the city is not permanent and would change depending on the decision of IATF, she said.

Dargantes said the IATF prohibits indoor dining only in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) or with more heightened status.

In addition, the MECQ status of the entire island of Cebu is only until Sept. 7, 2021.

Dargantes said the city has been encouraging vaccination while promoting the businesses in the city, including asking establishments to provide discounts to those who have been vaccinated.

To avail of the perks, vaccinees will have to present their vaccination ID and a valid ID.

Members of the business community in Cebu, for their part, are already starting to offer perks and discounts to vaccinated individuals to encourage them to get jabbed.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam said they are teaming up with the Philippine Retailers Association Cebu Chapter for such a program.

“We are still in the process of encouraging members to join in, to offer their products with perks for vaccinated clients. This is to encourage more economic activity,” he said.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) president Steven Yu said at least 50 percent of MCCI members are offering some form of perk or privilege to vaccinated individuals, and the list is growing.

“Both the Mandaue City LGU and MCCI are proactively pushing for this since the vaccination started, as we are adamant to attain herd immunity before this year ends. And thankfully, the whole province is leading in this aspect,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7 is finalizing its draft policy issuance on the policy of some local government units (LGUs) in the region which allows the segregation and classification of persons in terms of who can avail of services among the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.

Lawyer Arvin Odron, CHR 7 director, in a text message, said this policy issuance will serve as a guidance for the LGUs “to always put respect and regard for human rights at the center of all its efforts.”

“After all, the prime duty of the government according to the 1987 Constitution is to serve and protect the people without distinction and discrimination, and the CHR is being called, in situations like this, to remind the government, whether national or local, of its treaty commitments and obligations to respect, to protect, and to fulfill the human rights all,” he said.

The Cebu City Government earlier gave additional perks for individuals who are vaccinated against Covid-19.

Acting Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama on Sept. 2, issued Executive Order 138 or the “Oplan Puyo 9-2-7” which states that “food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants, and eateries are allowed to operate outdoor dine-in services (al fresco) at 50 percent capacity, while indoor dine-in services though allowed is limited at 10 percent capacity and for Covid-19 vaccinated customers only” while the City is under modified enhanced community quarantine.

In a separate statement, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said the Commission understands the government in its aim to boost economic activity by increasing the mobility of fully vaccinated individuals; however, at this time “when vaccines are scarce, any form of segregation between the vaccinated and unvaccinated may lead to undue discrimination.”

“Even if we treat greater mobility as an incentive to get vaccinated, the challenge on vaccine supply in the country remains. In this case, the best way to protect the unvaccinated as well is to increase vaccine supply and improve the vaccination rate across the country,” she said. (KFD, JOB, WBS)

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