FACT CHECK: President Duterte falsely claims that the CPP is behind vaccine hesitancy in Southern Mindanao

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On April 11, PTV Channel 4 broadcasted President Rodrigo Duterte’s pre-recorded “Talk to the People” speech where he blamed the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for the low vaccination rate in Mindanao’s Bangsamoro and Soccsksargen regions. Manila Bulletin published an article on the same subject.

“There is no way we can really go up against the panic, hatred especially ‘yung mga kalaban ng government like CPP-NPA. They’ve been feeding the public with kung anu-anong kasinungalingan. [There is no way we can really go up against the panic, hatred especially because of government enemies like the CPP-NPA. They’ve been feeding the public with all kinds of lies],” Duterte alleged.

Duterte’s claim came after the report of retired Army General Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, that the Bangsamoro and Soccsksargen regions posted the lowest vaccination rate in the country with only 20 percent of their population fully inoculated.

CLAIM:

President Duterte falsely claims that the CPP is behind vaccine hesitancy in Southern Mindanao

RATING:

FALSE

FACTS:  

There is no basis for the claim that the CPP is spreading disinformation against vaccines. The CPP has even issued a statement early into the pandemic where it expressed support to vaccination efforts for the people, assuring the opening of a “humanitarian corridor” for COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the low vaccination rate in Bangsamoro and its neighboring areas could be attributed to the inaccessibility and remoteness of most of its villages. UNICEF also attributed the low inoculation rate in the said areas to vaccine hesitancy, with Muslim communities raising concerns on whether vaccines are haram or forbidden by the Islamic faith.

In response, the Bangsamoro Islamic Advisory Council issued a ruling stating that vaccines were halal or permissible. To bolster this move, the highest government officials of the region publicized their inoculation to reassure the Muslim community in the Philippines that vaccines are indeed permissible in Islam. These steps were taken however recently, in the latter part of 2021.

Earlier this year, Duterte himself referenced that Muslim communities are less likely to get vaccinated due to religion-related beliefs.

WHY IT MATTERS: 

Various experts have explained that vaccine hesitancy primarily springs from “misinformation” about vaccines, including the vaccines’ side effects, brand preference, and cultural or religious beliefs that are contrary to science. A commentary published by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information recommended the implementation of a “massive information campaign” to allay the public’s hesitancy wrought by misinformation.

As of writing, the article posted by Manila Bulletin has163 reactions and 93 comments on Facebook, where the newspaper’s page currently has 3,560,702 likes. — Lyka Naranjo & Philip Mateo 

 Altermidya Network is part of #FactsFirstPH which brings together various sectors that are committed to promoting truth in the public space, and exacting accountability on those who harm it with lies. For those interested to join the initiative, email info@factsfirst.ph.

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