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MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday expressed readiness to ask Congress to pass a law on mandatory vaccination.

However, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque expressed optimism that it would not have to reach that point just to convince the public to get vaccinated.

This, after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to order the arrest of those who refused to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as they are “potential carriers” of the deadly virus.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said it would be “easy” for the Palace to request lawmakers to pass a measure that would make vaccination against Covid-19 compulsory, stressing that it is key to controlling infections.

“Kinakailangan ng batas para po ma-require itong mandatory vaccination at yung ipapataw na parusa doon sa ayaw magpabakuna. So madali naman pong i-request ‘yan sa Kongreso dahil alam naman po ng Kongreso rin ang importansya nitong pagbabakuna (We need to have a law to require this mandatory vaccination and punishment for those who refuse vaccination. So it is easy to request that from Congress because it knows the importance of getting vaccinated),” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque, however, said he hoped there would not be a need to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory when more vaccine doses arrive in the country.

“Pero gaya nga ng sabi ng Presidente, sana hindi na tayo umabot sa puntong ‘yun dahil marami naman po nakakaintindi na talagang bakuna po ay susi sa pagsalba ng buhay (Just like the President said, we hope we don’t have to reach that point because there are many who understand that the vaccine is key to saving lives),” he added.

Roque also defended Duterte’s warning to jail anti-vaxxers, noting that the Supreme Court has ruled that the right of the state to compel compulsory vaccination is well-established.

He explained that compelling the public to get vaccinated against Covid-19 is part of the “police power of the state" to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

“Pag sinabing police power, talagang may karapatan na malalabag. Pero, nilalabag yung karapatan na ‘yun para sa mas malawakang interes at ito nga po ang public health at public safety (When you say police power, there may be rights that would be violated. But you violate those rights for a bigger interest which is public health and public safety),” he said.

Since the country has yet to receive enough Covid-19 vaccine supply to inoculate 70 percent of the population, he said compulsory vaccination will have to take a back seat.

He also assured that efforts to encourage more people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 will continue.

“Siguro po darating kasi tayo dun sa punto na sapat na ang supply. Sa ngayon po, siyempre ineenganyo pa natin sila para magbakuna dahil bagamat konti po ang ating bakuna mayroong ayaw nang magpabakuna pa. Pero darating tayo doon sa sapat-sapat na magiging supply natin (I guess we will reach the point where we will have enough supply. For now, we still have to entice people to get vaccinated because even if we have little supply, there are still some who refuse to get vaccinated. But we will reach the point where we will have enough vaccine supply),” he said.

In a taped public address late Monday night, Duterte appealed to those who refused to get vaccinated not to “force his arm” by refusing to get their Covid-19 jabs.

As of June 19, the government has administered over 8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. Of this number, more than 2 million persons have been fully vaccinated. (PNA)