CHR to Metro Mayors: Respect rights of unvaccinated residents

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urged Metro Manila mayors to observe human rights in their plan to impose restrictions on the movement of un-vaccinated residents.

Following the announcement of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairperson Benjamin Abalos Jr. on Monday that the 17 National Capital Region mayors have agreed “in principle” to enact ordinances for “enhanced restrictions,” the CHR said such polices must be based on human rights standards.

“[A]mong others, it must be legal, necessary, proportional and non-discriminatory,” in accordance with the Siracusa Principles urging that human dignity and respect must be at the core of every government decisions concerning citizens, the CHR said in a statement.

The agency acknowledged that there are valid justifications in restricting rights, including freedom of movement, especially during national emergencies, such as the present pandemic.

But it said it remains the government’s obligation to “respect, protect and fulfill” people’s rights even during the pandemic.

“Despite the restrictions, unvaccinated individuals must also continue to be allowed to access essential services. Similar policies must contemplate valid exemptions as well, such as religious and valid medical grounds,” the CHR said.

Abalos Jr. said MMDA Resolution No. 22-01, series of 2022, had been approved in a meeting between the local executives, the MMDA and members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Abalos cited the rising cases of Covid-19 following the holiday season made worse by the threat of the Omicron variant.

The resolution urges local government units to mandate unvaccinated individuals to stay at home at all times except for the procurement of essential goods and services such as food, water, medical services, public utilities, and work.

“It’s like having an Enhanced Community Quarantine but only for the unvaccinated. It’s for their own protection. They should remain at home,” Abalos said in Filipino.

The NCR has reverted to the stricter Alert Level 3 from January 3 to 15.The Department of Health reported 4,084 new Covid cases and 16 new deaths on Monday, a steep increase from mere hundreds of daily new cases before Christmas. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)