THE Davao City Government is exploring legal measures against individuals spreading false information about Covid-19 and urging individuals not to have themselves vaccinated.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said on Monday, July 26, 2021, that this was their discussion with Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte over the weekend.
"That was discussed last weekend with Dra. Joselle Villafuerte, atong (our) health committee chair sa Sangguniang Panlungsod (in the City Council) to explore and study if this can be made punishable ang paghatag ug materials or pagpangampanya kontra sa Covid-19 ug pagpabakuna (to distribute materials or campaign against Covid-19 and vaccination)," Duterte-Carpio said in an interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio.
The mayor, however, said this propaganda did not affect the interest of Dabawenyos from getting the vaccine.
She added that many individuals had been lining up in the vaccination centers. But she said walk-ins are still discouraged to avoid causing mass gatherings, which is vulnerable to the Covid-19 transmission.
According to the Davao City Vaccination Cluster data as of July 25, a total of 330,945 individuals were already vaccinated for the first dose, while 149,122 were jabbed for the second dose. This covers Priority Groups A1 (health care workers), A2 (senior citizens), A3 (persons with comorbidities), A4 (essential workers), and A5 (indigent population).
Davao City is targeting to vaccinate 1.2 million Dabawenyos to achieve the targeted herd immunity.
Over the weekend, a certain Facebook page went viral after posting photos of a group distributing flyers urging an investigation against the World Health Organization, the Department of Health (DOH), and Food and Drug Administration.
The location of the photo, however, is unclear whether it happened in Davao City or somewhere in Davao Region.
The group, who is set to launch a "worldwide walk for freedom, Davao Region," is urging Dabawenyos not to force themselves if they do not want to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Both the DOH and Davao City Government had said that the vaccination program is voluntary, but the public is encouraged to have themselves vaccinated to protect themselves against the virus.
Villafuerte told SunStar Davao in a text message that they already reported the posts to the Davao City Police Office (DCPO).
When asked if she is going to lobby an ordinance for this matter, she did not directly respond.
Instead, she cited the provisions of the Republic Act 11469 or Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1): "Individuals or groups creating, perpetrating, or spreading false information regarding the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) crisis on social media and other platforms, such information having no valid or beneficial effect on the population, and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion; and those participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the current crisis situation to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts RA 11469 [sic]."
Both the Bayanihan 1 and Republic Act 11494 - Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) had lapsed into law. The passage for Bayanihan 3 Act is still ongoing.
Recently, a Davao-based pastor was also in hot water after a private video leaked online, claiming that vaccinated members will turn into zombies months after. The pastor also claimed that the vaccine has a microchip that will be implanted to the vaccinee.
Villafuerte said the video was presented during the recent Covid-19 Task Force meeting and was already reported to police authorities for surveillance.
The Davao City Government launched its “One-Stop-Shop” website, a platform exclusively for Covid-19-related information including vaccination registration, on July 19, 2021. The website address is https://covid19.davaocity.gov.ph/.
The website also contains all important Covid-19 and vaccination news, infomercial, and other materials coming from the City Health Office and DOH, in response to the continuous disinformation circulating online.
The mayor had previously urged the public to do their research based on scientific evidence and not on hearsays.
While the mayor said that she respects the decisions of the non-believers of vaccines, she said it is wrong to force their belief on other people.
“You have your right sa imuhang beliefs, sa imuhang opinions, sa imohang pagtuo, sa imuhang pagsabot (when it comes to your beliefs, opinions, and understanding) with regards to vaccines,” Duterte-Carpio said.
“But you need to allow other people to research on, to read on and inform themselves kung unsa ni nga bakuna (what are these vaccines), and to make them decide on their own kung magpabakuna ba sila or dili (whether they wanted to get vaccinated or not.) We respect kung unsa ang inyuhang pagtuo (your belief), pero it is wrong to impose them on other people. Let’s allow each individual to decide on their own," Duterte-Carpio added.