Duterte administration again puts frontliners, workers’ lives in peril over COVID-19 vaccine controversy

The Duterte government continues to prove its anti-worker stance with the recent controversy involving the administering of a Chinese-manufactured COVID-19 vaccine to select cabinet officials and military personnel, according to a labor NGO.


The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) expresses dismay over the vaccine controversy that favored the privileged few by bailing out big corporations and failing to sanction quarantine-violating officials.

“The circumvention of existing laws and procedures regarding the use of the vaccine sans the approval of the FDA is one thing, but the blatant disregard for the majority of the populace especially those that have been designated as priority to receive vaccination is an utterly disgusting display of corruption and elitism,” EILER Executive Director Rochelle Porras said.

The lives of millions of workers were put at risk since the outbreak in January of 2020. As consequence of the government’s incompetent handling of the health and economic situation, millions of jobs were lost on top of the thousands of COVID-19 related cases. A year into the pandemic, the number of positive cases continue to rise and masses of workers remain out of work.

“The Filipino working class, especially the health workers, have gone through a year filled with hardships and sacrifices. They deserve nothing less than the full support of the state in combating and ultimately eradicating the virus,” Porras said.

Meanwhile, common people, activists, peasants, and trade unionists that called for aid were faced with repression. In these crisis-ridden times where lives are on the line, there must be no room for playing favorites.

“We must hold Duterte and the officials involved in the vaccine controversy accountable for their betrayal of public interest. To let the perpetrators get away with their crime would be an insult to those who perished and to the Filipino people who have had to put up with the Administration’s incompetence and neglect,” Porras added.

EILER supports the calls for a safe and free vaccination program that will ensure the prioritization of health workers and primary economic movers such as workers, and other vulnerable sectors.

“The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the crisis that has been plaguing the healthcare system for a long time; one that is built upon the backs of the working class yet only favors the few. We must continue calling for the people’s right to free and accessible healthcare,” Porras ended. #

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