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‘Private Establishments Can Implement Rules On Vaccinated Individuals, But…’

‘Private Establishments Can Implement Rules On Vaccinated Individuals, But…’
The staff of a restaurant in Manila prepare tables and acrylic barriers on Sept. 15, 2021, a day before the pilot implementation of the alert level system in Metro Manila. Under Alert Level 4, indoor dining is allowed at limited 10% venue or seating capacity, but only for fully vaccinated customers. Photo by KJ Rosales, The Philippine STAR

While owners of private establishments have the right to impose rules regarding vaccinated individuals, those who feel discriminated by these policies are also free to challenge this in court, according to the national president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

“When it comes to the private establishments, the owners have their rights and can impose their own rules and restrictions,” IBP national president Burt Estrada said in an interview with “Agenda” on One News on Wednesday, Sept. 15.

 Private owners have the right to set their own rules, "but at the same time, the individuals who are prevented, they also have an argument they might say that 'I am being unduly discriminated against and my human rights are being violated here,'" he explained.

Estrada said the court is the best arbiter that can settle the situation, noting that establishment owner and the individual concerned are on both “balancing rights.”

Starting Thursday, Sept. 16, Metro Manila will be placed under Alert Level 4 as part of the pilot implementation of the new quarantine classifications.

Under the new system, fully vaccinated individuals can enjoy certain indoor activities such as dining, personal care and religious activities.

Read More: Limited Indoor Activities Allowed For Fully Vaccinated Individuals As NCR Placed Under Alert Level 4

Aside from the new policy, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion is also pushing for the implementation of “bakuna (vaccine) bubble” policies, where fully vaccinated individuals would be allowed mobility in certain places. 

The World Health Organization and the Department of Health opposed the proposal, saying even vaccinated individuals are still at risk of being infected.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights said that the segregation of the vaccinated from the unvaccinated may lead to discrimination. 

Read More: Segregation Of Vaccinated Individuals May Lead To Discrimination, Gov’t Cautioned

Asked about the government’s mandate that employees or staff of certain establishments must be fully vaccinated in indoor facilities, Estrada said the employee’s personal rights must be considered while the government finds ways to put the economy back on track.

“The grounds for termination are explicit in our Labor Code and where it could possibly fall is if it becomes a rule – an imposed rule by the employer or by the state. But that also raises the question if that rule becomes unduly discriminatory,” he said. 

“The state has that power and duty to promote public health and to promote the general welfare. This is the state's innate power of police power to legislate policies that will protect and promote the general welfare. However, we also have in our Constitution a principle of equality under the law or a prohibition against undue discrimination,” the IBP president added.

For a “segregation” policy to be considered as reasonable, Estrada also pointed out that  it must be backed by science and data. 

“We have to show the facts, the data, the science behind it so that the rules and the policy that we are imposing will stand as a lawful and reasonable rule,” he reiterated. “Because if it is not that established, then it is also open to being questioned in court for being discriminatory.”