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The Philippines Public Attorney's Office (PAO) Calls On The Commission On Higher Education (CHED) To Lift The Vaccine Mandates That They Have Imposed Upon College Students.
With a threat of legal action due to the illegality and unconstitutionality of the covid-19 mandates for higher education students, PAO has brought the spotlight onto effective vaccine mandates!
THE Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is a government office set up to provide legal services for and to protect the rights of all Filipino Citizens.
While DepED has clarified that vaccination is an encouraged but not a mandatory requirement for face to face learning at grade school levels, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are not allowing students who refuse Covid-19 vaccination for any reason to enroll in and attend face-to-face classes. Not only does this prevent new students from enrolling in their chosen degree courses, it also means that advanced students who were part way through their course cannot continue.
The HEIs base this on the CHED Memorandum Order No. 01 Series of 2022 issued March 18, 2022 which required HEIs to permit “only fully vaccinated teaching, non-teaching personnel and students in the premises, while unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students shall continue under flexible learning modalities.”
They also refer to the CHED and Department of Health (DOH) Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2021-004, page 2, which provides that only fully vaccinated personnel and students may attend face-to-face classes.
Parents of students, and students being banned from higher education enrollment have called on PAO for assistance. At a press briefing held on 22nd of August 2022, link here, PAO Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said that the actions by the HEIs are “illegal” and “unconstitutional” and should be immediately revoked, under the threat of legal action from PAO.
Vaccine mandates violate Republic Act No. 11525, also known as the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act which provides that “the vaccination cards shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for education, employment and other similar government transaction purposes.” [This act has been widely ignored by many sectors, businesses, and employers over the past year'].
Covid-19 Vaccination Mandates violate the Philippines Constitution; Section I, Article XIV which requires the government “to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels” and to take all the necessary steps “to make such education accessible to all”, and Section 1, Article III that provides: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”
PAO Chief Atty. Acosta clarified:-
As such, all students should be treated equally, without distinction, especially when there is really no scientific basis in distinguishing and segregating them from each other, to the effect of actually depriving one calls or kind (i.e. students under the HEIs – Colleges and Universities) of their human right to education.
To deprive these students of their basic human right, tramples upon their dignity as human persons, especially that in a few months or years, these students can already join the workforce into becoming economically independent, and already be of help to their households and the country’s progress, in general, should they finish their chosen courses, promptly and appropriately.
While covid-19 vaccines in the Philippines are not “mandatory”, proof of their receipt have been required by many parties to access businesses, services, and facilities, and even for work such that they effectively have become mandatory for many simply in order to live!!
It is about time that there is a test case against the illegality and inhumanity of these public health measures!
Now the ball is in the CHED court! The Philippines, and the world is watching!