Press Release
January 21, 2022

Drilon urges Duterte to direct reluctant Acosta to get vaccinated
'The Filipino people who are weighing whether to get the shots or not will be more confused

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon urged the President to direct Public Attorneys Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Before you convince the Filipino people to get the vaccine, you must first convince each member of your government to get the shot. The President must persuade Acosta that the vaccine that he is giving to millions of Filipinos is safe and necessary in order for us to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic," Drilon said on Friday.

"Otherwise, the credibility of your vaccination programs will suffer and people will be more reluctant to get the shots," he added.

Acosta's colleagues in government had also called on the PAO chief to get vaccinated including Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Drilon said Acosta can raise all legal issues as long as she wants "but the issue here that she failed to realize is she is a member of the administration and is bound to follow the policy of the government."

"Acosta can cite all the provisions in the Constitution and the law and we are prepared to counter that," said Drilon. "However, to me, it's not just an issue of legality, the more pressing issue here is the credibility of the government's vaccination program."

"She is a key member of the administration, a very vocal one with a huge following, but she contradicts and opposes the President's major policy of vaccination head-on," the former executive and justice secretary said.

"Paano mo mapapasunod ang taumbayan na magpabakuna kung ang inyong kasama sa inyong pamahalaan ay sinasabi na walang karapatan na pilitin akong magkaroon ng bakuna. Masamang ehemplo po," Drilon said in a radio interview.

"The Filipino people who are weighing whether to get the shots or not will be more confused with Acosta going to town announcing that she is not vaccinated and that the policy of the government restricting mobility of the unvaccinated is unconstitutional," Drilon said in a statement.

The minority leader said that given the country's low vaccination rate, "the government needs the least right now is a government official going to town announcing that she is not vaccinated."

"Her action does not augur well for our government's efforts to ramp-up vaccination rate," he added.

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

Goldman Sachs study also 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.

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