JUSTICE SECRETARY Menardo I. Guevarra said a law is needed to make vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) mandatory in the Philippines if penalties and sanctions will be used to enforce it.   

Mr. Guevarra, in a Viber group message to reporters on Wednesday, said while the President can exercise the state’s police power to make vaccination mandatory through the right of the state and its people to self-protection, “this power, especially if accompanied by penalties or sanctions to enforce obedience or compliance, must be exercised through the legislature.”   

He further explained that if there is no legislation, the executive branch may only use “moral suasion” to persuade the public to get vaccinated, such as “the grant of incentives.”   

In his televised public address Monday night, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he is considering making vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory in the country, citing that such is legal “under the police power of the state.”   

In June, Mr. Duterte had also threatened to arrest people who refuse to get vaccinated, to which Mr. Guevarra said “there is no law as yet that compels vaccination against COVID-19, much less criminalizes not getting vaccinated.” — Bianca Angelica D. Añago