FACT CHECK Gov’t did not issue ‘COVID-19 Vaccination Exemption Cards’ in 2 Mindanao regions

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) flagged as fake news claims on Facebook that the government has issued or allowed the use of “COVID-19 Vaccination Exemption Cards” in two Mindanao regions.

The fake exemption cards were supposed to be used by unvaccinated individuals to avoid stay-at-home orders and enjoy other privileges accorded to COVID-19 vaccinated citizens, such as entry to establishments requiring vaccination cards. 

“The public is warned that there is no such thing as a “vaccination exemption card.” This is not authorized, issued nor recognized by the government. In other words, these are fake,” DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said in a statement posted at the DILG website.

The agency said the fake vaccination exemption cards have been circulating in group chats in Regions XI and XII, or the Davao Region and Soccsksargen, respectively, and were allegedly endorsed by local authorities. 

Malaya stressed the government will never issue nor recognize such cards because it will run counter to the government’s national vaccination program to inoculate majority of the populace to achieve population protection.

The DILG warned they would arrest people faking COVID-19 vaccination cards and those producing unsanctioned vaccination exemption cards. 

In the wake of another COVID-19 surge in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte on January 6 ordered barangay officials to find unvaccinated individuals in their communities and make them stay at home, in a bid to curb the rapid spread of the contagious disease.

Last week, police arrested two individuals in Digos City, Davao del Sur for allegedly producing vaccination exemption and fake vaccination cards. They were identified as Danica Cabigas Razon, 22, and Mickent Quenn Sabio Cuizon, 22.

They were arrested in an entrapment operation conducted by personnel from the Digos City Police Station, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and 1st Davao del Sur Provincial Mobile Force Company. 

The two individuals were arrested for violating Republic Act 11332 otherwise known as the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act and for falsification of documents, according to the Police Regional Office XI. (Yas D. Ocampo / MindaNews)

(This fact-check piece was produced with the support of Internews’ Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator Project.)