Amid calls to elevate higher education students’ place in the vaccine prioritization list, University President Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ told student vaccination advocates to watch out for trade-offs as they might be “resented” and viewed as “sumisingit sa pila” (jumping the line).
Higher prioritization must be argued in terms of helping in overcoming the pandemic, not in pushing for an interest, Tabora said.
“Balik Silid“, a campaign led by AdDU students, calls to “bring back” higher education students to Priority Eligible Group B, after the Department of Health (DOH) revised their prioritization list, moving students to Group C.
While he is glad to see student appeals and would approve them if it is his call, Tabora said it is more sensible to advocate higher vaccine prioritization for certain types of students first rather than all of them.
“I would think it might be more reasonable to say: ‘alright put the medical students first and the chemical engineering students next’ and things like that,” he said in a town hall conversation with students Tuesday, adding there are students who need laboratory work to finish their degrees. “Do it on a more differentiated basis so that you can argue for the importance of making an exception for those students.”
“Don’t argue in terms of what might be considered a private or a selfish warrant,” he said. “Find a warrant that will allow you to say ‘these students are priority because they can contribute to the national good, to the common good’. That’s actually what we’re about in Ateneo de Davao.”
In an interview, former SAMAHAN President Renz Lacorte said the University President’s comments were a “reaffirmation” of their cause. Lacorte is the Campaign Lead of Balik Silid.
“It is the initiative’s interest to help the nation overcome the pandemic, and that vaccination of higher ed students is a national public good,” he said via Messenger. “Clearly, we laid out our three key reasons why. We also emphasized the need to prioritize the return of laboratory-based classes.”
Asked if they will modify the campaign, Lacorte said changes will not be made because their action plans are enacted in phases.
“What we did last month was the initial phase. The next phases will be activated very soon such as the consultations and forum with CHED, IATF, and other stakeholders, and the call to first vaccinate students whose courses really demand face to face interaction,” he said, declaring that their national core group will convene with representatives from all over the country this week.
“We are happy that Fr. Joel is happy to support initiatives like this, as he said that he is also confused as to why we are vaccinating teachers and not students,” he further said.
“I hope that everyone will support this, especially inside Ateneo de Davao regardless of political lines,” he said. “Instead of praying and rejoicing for [the downfall] of other people’s causes, let us collaborate and help one another.”
On its website, the DOH stated students from various medical fields who are practicing in health facilities will be included in Priority Group A.