Press Release
January 20, 2022

Drilon sees a classic clash between police power vs personal liberty in LGUs ordinances imposing restrictions on unvaxxed persons

As more local government units are adopting local ordinances restricting the movement of unvaccinated individuals despite claims that it curtails personal liberty, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Thursday raised the possibility that it will be brought to the Supreme Court.

Drilon said that restricting the movement of unvaccinated individuals could be defended as an exercise of the inherent police power of the State to protect public health but whether such is a reasonable exercise of its constitutional power is a matter for the courts to decide.

"This is a classic clash of interests. It's a clash between personal liberty and the police power of the state," according to the veteran senator and former justice secretary.

Both are constitutional rights guaranteed by the Constitution, he stressed.

In Iloilo City, the city council recently unanimously approved an ordinance restricting the movement and access to services of unvaccinated people.

"The right of the national government, under its police power, to protect the general welfare, including the health of the people, is as much applicable to the LGUs," Drilon said.

Drilon said the city, the LGUs in the general, may assert that it is part of their duty to protect public health.

The former justice secretary also cited the general welfare clause as a sufficient authority to the government to implement measures for the "maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and promotion of the general welfare."

However, Drilon pointed out that the issue is not settled worldwide even in the most sophisticated and most established democracies in this world.

"This has to be resolved by the courts," he said. "I encourage those who are opposed to this to go to the Supreme Court and have this settled once and for all."

Meanwhile, Drilon sees that vaccine hesitancy as a major reason for the country's low vaccination rate.

Drilon cited a recent report published by the World Bank's Philippine office that claimed that "vaccination continued to lag regional peers" in the Philippines.

Drilon noted the World Bank's findings is bolstered by another study by Goldman Sachs which showed that the Philippines was among Asia-Pacific's laggards in mass vaccination, with only 54 percent of its population fully vaccinated as of January 13, while China has a vaccination rate of 90 percent; Singapore, 89 percent; South Korea, 87 percent; Australia, Japan, and Vietnam, 80 percent; Malaysia and Taiwan, 79 percent; New Zealand, 78 percent; Thailand, 73 percent; Hong Kong, 67 percent; India, 65 percent, and Indonesia, 63 percent.

"The vaccine hesitancy is a major factor in a very low vaccination rate, if we have enough supply as the government is claiming," he said in an earlier interview.

"While there is no mandatory vaccination, I think it is the duty of the Acostas of this world, especially PAO chief Acosta being in government office, to follow government policy," Drilon said.

Drilon had earlier called the Malacanang to bar Public Attorneys Office Chief Persida Acosta from going to work physically as she endangers the life, health and safety of her co-workers at the PAO. He added that Acosta's attitude does not augur well for the government's efforts to increase the vaccination rate in the country.

Drilon said he is willing to listen to expert advice from the medical field whether a law is needed to make vaccination mandatory in order to achieve herd immunity.

"As a lawyer, I am open to debates on that. This is not settled worldwide. I am open to it and I will rely on expert advice from the medical field," Drilon said.

"Let's see where it will end. This is an open question not only in Iloilo, not only in the Philippines, but worldwide," he added.

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