Education Secretary Leonor Briones (left) stresses that the order for vaccination of teachers is not mandatory but encouraged for national interest. (DepEd Region 2 FB Live screen grab)

Villamor Visaya Jr., Philippine Daily Inquirer news correspondent and Philippine News Agency stringer

CITY OF ILAGAN, Isabela-Saying that the vaccination is not mandatory but “highly encouraged for the greater interest,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said teachers and school personnel who have been airing their tirades on social media and other platforms “should make a choice.”

“While it is voluntary on their part, they have to face and take (antigen swab) tests and shoulder the costs to show that they are exempted and they are not infectious,” she said in a query of this correspondent in her virtual news briefing with media practitioners in Cagayan Valley on January 21 before noon until afternoon.   

“If they would not like to be vaccinated, they may opt for a work-from-home arrangement. However, they will be subjected to regular monitoring and close supervision by (Education) officials,” she said.

Unvaccinated teachers, though, would be required to have medical clearances and negative antigen results before being allowed to mingle with vaccinated people, she added. 

She noted that the national government has been pushing for vaccination so the Education department has also been adopting the Malacañang order “because of national interest and protection of the majority and to have control over the health system of the people.” 

Briones also rued some educators who violate the “political neutrality which is clearly a violation of the Commission on Elections and Civil Service Commission rules and regulations.” 

“As government employees, if you participate in public debates and not neutral on issues (such as vaccination), you are subject to the rule laws,” she added.#