The Philippine government is looking to issue an order that would allow village officials to go “house-to-house” and register the vaccination status of all residents as it extends restrictions on movement until the end of January due to a new surge in COVID-19 cases.
The move comes after President Rodrigo Duterte warned last week that he would order the arrests of those who had not been vaccinated to contain the spread of the disease.
Interior Minister Eduardo Ano is expected to sign the new order, creating a “complete inventory” of vaccination status in each of 42,046 villages across the country, his deputy, Epimako Dinsing, said Friday.
“Many officials will have to go from house to house and do the survey or inventory,” Densing told CNN Philippine News.
“Once individuals are identified, specifically those who are not vaccinated, they will be monitored for the purposes of determining whether or not to move out of their accommodations to purchase essential goods and services.”
He said that unvaccinated residents who will move out of their accommodation for “non-essential purposes” could face penalties.
“Under the revised Penal Code, if you do not follow a person in authority or follow a valid order from a higher authority – in this case, the chief – they will not be arrested because they are not immune, but because they have not followed the instructions or directions of a person in authority.”
Since the pandemic began, the Philippines has implemented restrictive orders that have been questioned by rights groups and legal experts.
In 2020, Duterte threatened to “shoot” violators of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
The country recorded a new daily record of 34,021 cases and a positivity rate of 47.9 percent on Thursday.
The number of active cases has also reached a new high of 237,387 since the pandemic began. Nearly 53,000 people in the country have died from the coronavirus.
Health officials said the recent increase in cases is being driven by the Amicron variant, but they added that the delta variant is still circulating and also causes many infections.
A health department spokeswoman said Friday that their data showed that the peak in the latest rise was likely to occur “towards the end of January through the late second week of February.”
Continuing restrictions on movement
After the continued rise in cases, the government announced on Friday that it will extend until January 31 the restrictions on movement in Metro Manila and several cities and counties across the country.
Face-to-face lessons and contact sports and the opening of theaters and concert halls will continue to be banned under the order.
Theme parks, dining services, and fitness facilities for vaccinated individuals will be allowed at 30 percent of capacity indoors and 50 percent outdoors.
Another waste of time and resources. The focus should be on contact tracing, not on knowing who has been vaccinated or not. The Ministry of Health, LGUs and the private sector already have a list of people who have been vaccinated. https://t.co/DgtPbiFjlN
– Neri Colmenares (ColmenaresPH) January 14 2022
In recent days, the Philippine government has also ordered that unvaccinated passengers be banned from using public transportation – a move seen as a violation of Filipinos’ rights.
With the implementation of the new vaccine “inventory”, there are more concerns than violations of people’s privacy.
Human rights lawyer and Senate candidate Neri Colmenares said the new system was “another waste of time and resources” for the government.
“The focus should be on contact tracing, not on knowing who has been vaccinated or not,” he wrote on Twitter.
But Densing, the senior Home Office official, defended the new order, saying it was a “reasonable limitation” to protect everyone, especially the unvaccinated, from contracting COVID-19.
Last year, Densing drew the ire of human rights advocates by suggesting that health workers go “house to house” and test everyone for possible symptoms of COVID-19.