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Business groups at odds on free vax

Raffy Ayeng



Major business organizations in the country have shown contrasting takes in providing free vaccines to their subordinates, days after the Labor Department has released its latest ruling that mandates employers to shoulder the cost of Covid-19 vaccines to their employees.

In a text message, Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) president Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong they will heed to the Guidelines of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), mandating employers to shoulder the cost of vaccination, and should not be passed, directly or indirectly, to the employees.

“We are encouraging all our employees to be vaccinated, of course, we shoulder the cost of the vaccines,” Mr. Liong said.

The FFCCCII, with over 170 Filipino Chinese chambers and trade organizations nationwide, even pledged to purchase 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines for economic front liners to safeguard the entrepreneurs and their workers who are at the forefront of Philippine socio-economic development.

DoLE’s Guidelines on the Covid 19 Vaccination Program in the Workplaces also noted that “any employee who refuses or fails to be vaccinated shall be not discriminated against or terminated from employment,” pursuant to Article 5 of the Labor Code of the Philippines and Republic Act 1105 and Republic Act 11525.

Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) National Issues Committee chairperson Riza Mantaring, on the other hand, aired personal concerns over DoLE’s Advisory, affecting those struggling companies who cannot afford the price of the full vaccines.

“While employers are generally bearing the costs of vaccinating their employees, making it mandatory removes the opportunity for companies who cannot afford to bear the full cost to provide access to vaccinations to their employees,” according to Mantaring.

The MAP official also expressed that the government should somehow recompense the amount of vaccine cost that companies would shell-out, in the form of tax reprieves.

“Where companies do pay for vaccination, the government should consider reimbursing the full costs or at the very least giving tax credits or tax deductions, given the government has stated it is prepared to shoulder the costs of vaccinating all citizens,” Mantaring told the Daily Tribune.

Mantaring can’t help but to compare the Philippines from other countries who take charge in vaccinating their citizens, noting “that the country is quite unusual in that it is the only country where the private sector is shouldering the cost of vaccination for a segment of the population.”

The MAP as a whole organization is not yet releasing its official statement, along with other business groups such as the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines.