COVID-19 Fact Checks

FALSE: Senate rejects bill calling for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination

Rappler
FALSE: Senate rejects bill calling for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination
The Senate could not have rejected HB 9252, a bill calling for mandatory vaccination against COVID-19, since it has not been approved nor transmitted to by the House of Representatives
At a glance
  • Claim: The Senate rejected a bill calling for mandatory vaccination against COVID-19.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: There was no Senate bill on this. There is House Bill No. 9252, which calls for mandatory vaccination against COVID-19, but this has not yet been transmitted to the Senate as it is pending with the House committee on health.
  • Why we fact-checked this: The claim first emerged on August 5. One post containing this claim has gained 246 comments, 24,000 reactions, and 327,000 shares, as of writing.
Complete details

The Senate has allegedly rejected a bill calling for mandatory vaccination against COVID-19. 

The claim was made in multiple social media posts. It stated: “Hindi inaprubahan sa Senate ang mandatory vaccination. Malaya na po ang lahat ng Pilipino na magdesisyon kung magpapabakuna man o hindi. Binasura na ito ng Senado, at hindi po required ang vaccination card bilang travel pass o requirement para makapasok sa mga establishments like malls, supermarkets, etc.”

(The Senate didn’t approve of mandatory vaccination. Filipinos are now free to decide if they want to get vaccinated or not. The Senate has junked this, and vaccination cards will not be required for travel and entry to establishments like malls, supermarkets, etc.)

The earliest version of the claim can be traced to August 5. One user’s post contained a screen capture of another post from the Facebook group “President Rodrigo ‘Rody’ Duterte Supporters,” which repeated the script. The user’s post has 246 comments, 24,000 reactions, and 327,000 shares, as of writing.

This claim is false.

House Bill No. 9252, a bill calling for mandatory vaccination against COVID-19, has not yet been transmitted to the Senate; neither does it have a counterpart bill in the upper chamber. The bill is pending with the House of Representative’s committee on health.

Cavite 4th District Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr. filed the House bill on April 26. This was then referred to the committee on health on May 17.  On August 1, Barzaga said in a DZBB interview (at the 1:10 mark) that the bill would be taken up in the following months, according to his discussion with Quezon 4th District Representative Angelina Tan, chairperson of the committee on health.

The claim also included an excerpt from a Manila Bulletin article about Senate President Vicente Sotto III criticizing an order to restrict movement for unvaccinated individuals, supposedly in relation to the bill.

The comment that Sotto made was not about the bill. The order he was criticizing appeared to have been an executive order issued by the local government of Lapu-Lapu City on July 31. In a tweet on August 2, Sotto said “disallowing [the] unvaxxed [from] certain places is utterly wrong,” mistakenly attributing the policy to the national government’s coronavirus task force.

In another tweet on the same day, Sotto said: “We should not force our people to be vaccinated if they refuse. Last time I heard this a free country!”

Sotto’s opinion on mandatory vaccination did not mean that the Senate rejected any related bill, if any. A proposed measure needs to get approved on third reading in the House of Representatives before it is transmitted to and discussed in the Senate.

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EXPLAINER: Can PH government make COVID-19 vaccine mandatory?

EXPLAINER: Can PH government make COVID-19 vaccine mandatory?

Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Eric Domingo said that, as of August 1, only 116 people out of 9.1 million fully vaccinated individuals contracted COVID-19 more than 14 days after their second dose. The Department of Health and FDA have also said multiple times that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.

HB 9252, if passed into law, would require vaccination for all individuals. Exemptions will be given to individuals with medical conditions as provided under the Implementing Rules and Regulations to be determined by the Department of Health (DOH).

Medical doctors shall likewise have the discretion to exempt a person from vaccination. The bill also seeks to require the DOH to issue vaccination cards for vaccinated individuals.

The only other pending bill in the Senate related to mandatory vaccination is Senate Bill No. 398, which seeks to expand the coverage of the mandatory basic immunization program for infants and children.

As of writing, there is currently no COVID-19 vaccine approved for use on infants and children in the Philippines. The FDA has only allowed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the inoculation of 12- to 15-year-olds. – Jerome Sagcal/Rappler.com

Jerome Sagcal is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

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