By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
PHOTO: Screen grab from Zarraga News Live/Facebook
"I do not know if you will believe in me, the Holy Spirit told me that this vaccination or vaccine is not just demonic but satanic. I cannot question it— it is the Holy Spirit."

This is what a "science and a research" teacher in Iloilo has to say after she was barred from entering the campus on Monday, January 3, following a government order that prevents unvaccinated on-site workers from rendering duty.

At least 16 teachers of Ajuy National High School in northern part of Iloilo province were not allowed to enter the school premises after they were not able to present a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result or vaccination card. 

"I fear God especially when He has warned me that vaccines are such and I still opted to get inoculated, then I cannot blame someone if something would happen to me," the female science teacher maintained. 

Jocky Fundal, one of the 16 teachers who was prohibited from entering the campus, claimed that the order for mandatory vaccination is "unconstitutional," in which he did not specify a particular article or section of the 1987 Constitution. 

Fundal claimed that as an educator, he also did his own research and asked some lawyers about it.

"We do our own research. We are teachers. We are not like anyone who just follows the mandate. The vaccines are just experimental. Others only believe on hoaxes, hearsays," he said. 

"You are vaccinated yet you fear those who are unvaccinated? I thought you were already protected. If we will get vaccinated, should we also fear those who are not?" Fundal further reckoned. 

He reiterated that the teachers are not against the school administration nor the vaccination, but pointed out that everybody should have a free will or freedom on what to do on their bodies since it is the "temple of God."

"We fear God the most. It is only God we will please, not humankind. Our body, our rules. Our body is the temple of God, which is the home of the Holy Spirit, of Jesus Christ," Fundal remarked. 

He added that even if one is already vaccinated, he or she could still acquire and transmit the virus, adding that measures mandating everyone to get inoculated is a sort of oppression. 

"Why is it that only the unvaccinated like us would present a negative RT-PCR test result? It seems that we are being oppressed. We know the law. We’re teachers. That’s painful on our part. We know that it’s their way for us to submit to their plan," Fundal said. 

Considering their minimal salary and other personal expenses, the teachers also stressed the price cap range of RT-PCR would be a burden for them. The RT-PCR costs from around P1,000 to P3,000. 

"What are we going to pay, given that we are asked to present a RT-PCR test twice a month. It would be okay if the medical fees were shouldered by the department," the female science teacher posited. 

"If we comply with the need to have a RT-PCR test twice a month, how are we going to sustain that since it is so pricey?" she added. 

As per the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases, RT-PCR testing is done once every two weeks.

The teachers, however, claimed that they understand the situation and they are not against the school administration as it only follows the mandate given to by the higher office. 

Their plea is for them to no longer shoulder the fees for the RT-PCR test and for the Department of Education (DepEd) Division office, or even the DepEd Central Office to heed their appeal. 

No discrimination, but encouragement 

Lyvi Alfin, Principal III of the school said the circumstance is nothing personal, citing that he was just merely implementing an order from the DepEd central office.

“I am just an implementer of a memorandum from the central office down to the division. I don’t prohibit anyone from entering the campus, provided they could present their vaccination card or if they don’t have one, an unexpired negative RT-PCR result will do,” he said in an interview with Zarraga News Live. 

“We don’t discriminate but we encourage. The government asked us to get vaccinated. If you chose not to get vaccinated, just simply submit your negative RT-PCR or antigen test,” he added. 

Alfin said that the DepEd Division Office issued Memorandum Order No. 270 dated Dec. 13, 2021, which cited DepEd Task Force COVID-19 Memorandum Order No. 575 dated Dec. 7. The order cited the guidelines outlined in IATF Resolution Nos. 148-B and 149 which was issued on November 11, 2021. 

Under IATF Resolution 148-B, “on-site workers are required to be fully vaccinated" and those who refuse to be unvaccinated should not be terminated but must take RT-PCR tests “regularly at their own expense.”

Meanwhile, IATF Resolution No. 149 provides "all partially vaccinated employees in the public and private sector tasked to do onsite work need not undergo regular RT-PCR test at their own expense, as long as their second dose is not yet due."

The order which supposedly took effect on Dec. 1 was relayed in DepEd-Iloilo only on Dec. 13.

Alfin said the order was shared on their private Facebook page and group chat on Dec. 16, which according to him is" well detailed" as it is coupled with a thorough explanation and pictures. 
Since the school's Christmas break started on Dec. 20, he clarified to the faculty that the order will be implemented on Jan 3, 2022.

Alfin said he clearly stated that teachers, faculty, and staff should bring their vaccination card or at least their negative RT-PCR test result to enter the campus. 

Should the teachers refuse to get vaccinated or still cannot present a negative RT-PCR test result, Alfin underscored that the administration will designate other teachers to handle their subjects and learners' concerns.