Anti-vaccine protesters ignoring health protocols get dispersed in Manila

January 12, 2022 - 10:58 AM
Gising Maharlika Freedom Fighters holding a rally against policies on unvaccinated individuals in Liwasang Bonifacio on Jan. 11, 2021. (Photo from News5/Camille Samonte via Twitter)

A group of anti-vaxxers holding a rally in Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila were dispersed with water cannons by the police on Tuesday for reportedly failing to follow physical distancing measures.

Reports said that members of the “Gising Maharlika Freedom Fighters” group went to the site to protest the government’s policy against unvaccinated individuals.

President Rodrigo Duterte on January 6 threatened those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 of arrest if they refuse to follow stay-at-home orders.

“If he refuses, if he goes out his house and goes around the community, he can be restrained. If he refuses, the captain is empowered now to arrest recalcitrant persons,” he said in his speech last week.

Local government units in Metro Manila have already approved ordinances banning the entry of the unvaccinated in malls, restaurants and public transportation.

Prior to those ordinances, the Metro Manila mayors passed a Metro Manila Council resolution requiring unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals to stay at home except for essential trips under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 and above.

They can only go out if they need to access essential goods and services such as food, water, medicine or medical devices, public utilities, work, and medical and dental visits.

The Philippine National Police assured the public that their members would exercise maximum tolerance and respect for human rights in dealing with the unvaccinated on the ground.

Protesters from Gising Maharlika on Tuesday expressed their disagreement over the new policy through a rally they conducted in Manila.

One of them who was interviewed said the government should instead focus on giving out vitamins and things that would help boost the immune system like “ivermectin.”

Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug which has been controversially touted by some lawmakers as a supposed treatment against COVID-19.

The health department is not recommending it for such usage as it is “not proven to significantly reduce mortality nor to improve other clinical outcomes.”

Meanwhile, some of those who attended the rally were reportedly COVID-19 deniers as well.

According to a report of a News5 correspondent, the Manila Police District called on firefighters to disperse their group which do not have a permit to hold a rally in the site.

The police brought the rally leaders to the station for investigation.

A report from a digital news outlet said that the rallyists were dispersed for crowding and failing to follow physical distancing measures.

Individuals are supposed to stay at a minimum of one meter apart as part of the health and safety protocols against COVID-19. The coronavirus can be spread by asymptomatic people or those who are infected who do not experience COVID symptoms.

The government is not making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory but it is highly encouraging Filipinos to get the shot so that the country could reach herd immunity against the virus.

The Department of Health said that getting vaccinated reduces the risks of getting severe symptoms of COVID-19.

“Vaccines mimic the virus or bacteria that causes disease and triggers the body’s creation of antibodies. These antibodies will provide protection once a person is infected with the actual disease-causing virus or bacteria,” it said on its website.

“Vaccines differ in their composition and how they trigger the immune response to create antibodies. These antibodies protect the body from microorganisms and serve as protection once a person gets infected with disease,” DOH further said.

Vaccination is one of the ways to reach herd immunity against the virus.

A report from The Atlantic said that the pandemic ends “when almost everyone has immunity, preferably because they were vaccinated or alternatively because they were infected and survived.”

“When that happens, the cycle of surges will stop and the pandemic will peter out,” the report said.