September 20, 2021 at 12:25 am
Freedom of expression and public health should be tightly balanced in this time of the pandemic, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said on Sunday, as he warned some anti-vaccine individuals for defying the quarantine protocols by holding protest actions.
This, after members of the group Gising Maharlika recently held a protest action with most of them not wearing face masks at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila to oppose the vaccination program of the national government.
Eleazar said he respects the belief of some Filipinos who still say there is no COVID-19, “but you should learn to respect the belief of the majority of Filipinos, including those who have family members who died and become infected, especially our healthcare workers on the frontline of this battle.”
“Holding protest actions to insist on what you believe in does not make it right. It is but plain and simple acts of defiance and irresponsibility because you are putting our personnel and othercivilian population at risk of being infected,” he said.
Eleazar said the PNP will strictly monitor if there will be protest actions by anti-vaxxers that would violate the minimum public health standard.
“The police have shown maximum tolerance and respect for your beliefs when you staged a protest without wearing protection. I warn you that you may not be tolerated if you repeat the insult to the beliefs of the majority of our countrymen and your insult to public health policies,” Eleazar said.
He directed local police chiefs to monitor the situation on the ground regarding possible mass actions wherein the protesters would deliberately not wear face masks and violate the public health safety protocols.
The inoculation program of the government continues amid the arrival of more doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
Over 2 million doses of Pfizer from COVAX Facility and 3 million government-procured Sinovac vaccines were scheduled to arrive on Sunday night.
The country has so far received a total of nearly 60 million vaccine doses from various manufacturers, including over 36 million doses procured by the government.
As of Saturday, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said 22.7 million Filipinos have already received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine while some 18.3 million are now fully vaccinated.
Eleazar renewed his appeal to the public to join the fight against the pandemic by strictly observing health and safety protocols after thousands of violators have been caught in the past few days.
“But this (violation) will not discourage your PNP to continuously assist in the enforcement of these rules because this is one of the effective measures that we see to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus,” he said.