PHOTO CAPTION: Iloilo City mayor Jerry Treñas’s ‘no vaccine-no work’ proposal has gotten a lot of public flak, and now DOLE and CHR are weighing in on it./iNEWS (Photo: Arnold Almacen/CMO)
ILOILO CITY–For Iloilo City mayor Jerry Treñas, his order for the City Legal Office (CLO) to study a proposal for city employees to return to work only after undergoing vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is “just putting it on the table for discussion” and not meant to force people into doing something they don’t want.
This was the clarification made by the city chief executive this morning after his so-called “No Vaccination, No Work Policy” proposal got a lot of pushback from city Ilonggos.
In a recent interview, Treñas made it clear that the said proposal is still in its infancy stage.
“I want to clarify that we are just starting to talk about this. Waay kita nagabutang sini para piliton ‘ta ang tawo nga magdesiyon na; this is not to compel anyone to be vaccinated. Wala kita naghambal sini nga ginapilit ta nga ‘kay ti indi kamo kaobra, pabakuna na lang kamu [I want to clarify that we are just starting to talk about this. We did not put this out there to force people into making a decision; this is not to compel anyone to be vaccinated. We never said that this was a way to push you to get vaccinated because, otherwise, you couldn’t go back to work],” Treñas explained.
He added that ultimately, he is not the person to decide on this but the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
He also denied that the “No Vaccination, No Work” policy was the consequence of the initial results of Vaccine Consent Forms (VCFs) distributed earlier that saw 71% of city residents not keen on being inoculated with the anti-COVID-19 vaccine.
This, he said, was based on statements made by medical experts like American physician-scientist Dr. Anthony Stephen Fauci who said the pandemic will only end if herd immunity is reached or when 70 to 80 percent of the world’s population is vaccinated.
In addition, Treñas said the only reason he wants it on the table is so that he himself would be part of the discussion to find out what would happen if half of the population got the vaccine and the other half did not.
He gave as an example an ordinary office where a certain number of employees were given vaccine shots while the rest refused to be inoculated.
“Perhaps, if you are not vaccinated, you would have to be transferred to another work area or space separate from the rest [of your co-workers].”
Meanwhile, asked for comment on this, the Department of Labor and Employment here in Western Visayas appears a bit cautious and somewhat vague in giving their take on the issue.
According to Niezel Sabrido, spokesperson of DOLE-6, there needs to be some sort of consensus on the positions, rights, and responsibilities of the affected sectors in the common fight against COVID-19.
She said DOLE-6 would have to look into the “possible repercussions” of the city’s plan to require employees to be vaccinated prior to being allowed to return to work.
Sabrido also said it’s good that the city government has made their intentions known this early so they can start studying the proposal’s pros and cons.
For his part, the chief of the Commission on Human Rights here in the region already sees a lot of problems with the proposal.
According to Atty. Jonnie Dabuco, both the employees and the employer have rights “pero daw kabudlay ibutang sa isa ka proper nga scenario wherein i-require mo ang vaccine as a pre-requisite sa employment. Daku pa ini nga istoryahan siguro. Mas maayo nga maklaro ini kag maistoryahan [but it would be difficult to put (it) in proper context in which you would require the vaccine as a pre-requisite for employment. This would need to be discussed thoroughly. It is best that we clear things up and talk this over.]”
In addition, he said the issue could also result in discrimination in the workplace and violations of workers’ rights, things that need to be resolved now to prevent the emergence of bigger problems later on./(N. Glenn Aragon/iNEWS)