PAO chief told: Ensure ‘clean’ environment in your workplace

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday said he has advised Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta to ensure a Covid-19-free working environment in her office premises amid her vocal resistance to be vaccinated against the virus, citing her age and other health reasons.

Guevarra issued the statement in response to Sen. Franklin Drilon’s call for President Duterte to prevent Acosta from physically reporting for work, as the government ramps up its campaign to inoculate more Filipinos against Covid-19.

The DOJ chief noted that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) mandates that personnel reporting for on-site work should be vaccinated.

However, those who insist to remain  unvaccinated but are required to physically report for work are mandated to undergo RT-PCR or antigen testing at least every two weeks.

“I already advised PAO chief Acosta to comply with existing government regulations regarding on-site work as it relates to unvaccinated personnel, and to ensure a Covid-safe working environment in her agency without sacrificing efficiency,” Guevarra said.

Acosta earlier warned to legally contest any punishment that would be imposed against her for being unvaccinated, arguing  that the Bill of Rights of the Constitution mandates “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, and property without due process of law.”

Earlier, Guevarra said that while  Acosta has the legal right to refuse vaccination since there is no law making anti-Covid-19 vaccination mandatory in the country, the state has the power to regulate the movement of unvaccinated persons for the interest of public health or public safety.

“A person may refuse to get vaccinated for his/her own personal reasons but he/she is duty-bound to obey reasonable state regulations affecting unvaccinated persons for the benefit of society at large,” Guevarra pointed out.

Drilon said Acosta’s refusal to be vaccinated runs counter to the government’s call for Filipinos to be vaccinated and might further promote vaccine hesitancy.