ILOILO City – The Office of the City Mayor is proposing a regulation ordinance restricting the movement of those still unvaccinated against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“It will apply to all city residents, those who work in Iloilo City, and all individuals entering the city,” said Atty. Fydah Sabando of the City Mayor’s Office.
Sabando, however, clarified that unvaccinated individuals will still be able to access essential goods and services.
She also clarified that the proposed ordinance “maga-trigger lang kon Alert Level 3 kita or up.”
Iloilo City is currently under Alert Level 3 (from Jan. 9 to 15) as recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
Last week, the city recorded its first case of the more contagious Omicron COVID-19 variant – a 46-year-old seafarer from Kenya.
“Unahan ta arrest ang Omicron bag-o pa sya diri mag-transmit gid locally kag ma-overwhelm liwat ang aton mga healthcare institutions. We do not want that to happen,” said Sabando.
The proposed ordinance also has a provision requiring individuals entering establishments in Iloilo City to present their COVID-19 vaccination cards plus identification cards.
Atty. Peter Mallari, also of the City Mayor’s Office, said this move is part of the efforts to promote general welfare “especially now that we are seeing a surge in cases.”
He, however, clarified that private establishments will be given the discretion whether to enforce a “no vaccine, no entry” policy or not.
Government offices, on the other hand, are encouraged to provide a place or desk where they can accommodate unvaccinated individuals that avail themselves of their services.
The city government is going ahead with the proposed ordinance amid warnings from human rights group Panay Alliance Karapatan that mobility restrictions on citizens not vaccinated against COVID-19 were unreasonable, repressive and harmful..
“At the very least it is a violation of the right to freedom from discrimination,” said Reylan Vergara, secretary general of Panay Alliance Karapatan.
The mobility restriction, according to Vergara, has no logic, averring that COVID-19 vaccines could not prevent a contagion and that not only the unvaccinated but also the vaccinated could still be infected.
He was referring to “breakthrough infections” – infections that happen when fully vaccinated persons still get infected with COVID-19.
“It is, therefore, wrong to conclude that the unvaccinated are a threat,” said Vergara.
The movement restriction is discriminatory, he asserted.
“Instead of forced vaccination, lockdown and other repressive measures, the government should be strengthening its health and medical services and help people improve their natural immunity to overcome this pandemic,” said Vergara./PN