Duterte threatens to arrest those who refuse COVID-19 vaccines

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Duterte threatens to arrest those who refuse COVID-19 vaccines
Barangay-assisted registrants are inoculated with AstraZenica vaccines at SM Fairview during the drive thru vaccination program of the Quezon City government on May 18, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte threatened anew those who refuse to be vaccinated, this time to put them behind jail.

In his public address Monday night, Duterte noted that the country is currently in a public health crisis and national emergency. “Kung ayaw mo magpabakuna, ipaaresto kita. At ang bakuna ay galing—itusok ko sa puwet mo. (If you don’t want to be vaccinated, I will have you arrested. The vaccine is from—I will have you injected on your butt),” he said.

The president has not provided the legal basis for his latest arrest order. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has yet to reply on what law could possibly be violated for refusal to be inoculated.

Duterte, however, noted that he will think about his latest arrest order very hard legally. “But if you don’t want to, I will have you arrested. That is in pursuance of a policy of our crisis of this health issue,” Duterte added.

He also said to those who refuse to get vaccinated that they should just leave the Philippines. “Go to India if you want or somewhere, to America. But for as long as you are here and you are a human being, and can carry the virus, get vaccinated,” the president said partly in Filipino.

Duterte continued that if people will refuse to receive COVID-19 jabs, he will direct barangay captains to record a tally of them and even threatened that they will have them inoculated with Ivermectin, the anti-parasitic drug for animals that some are claiming can prevent COVID-19.

“Choose: Get vaccinated or I will have you jailed? I am telling you, police detention cells are not clean, police are lazy to clean. Everything is there—every filth is there. You will stay there,” he added.

The government’s national vaccination program faced supply problems and hesitancy from the public.

Duterte’s arrest orders amid pandemic

As the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, Duterte has given several arrest orders: from quarantine protocol violators, people without face masks, to barangay captains who fail to enforce ban on mass gatherings, and those who are not wearing their face masks properly.

After more than a year of pandemic arrests, the Departments of Justice and of the Interior and Local Government, and the Philippine National Police signed uniform guidelines on strict enforcement of safety protocols on June 1.

Prior to the signing of guidelines, DILG spokesperson Jonathan acknowledged that when they enforce arrests, the government also needs to prepare detention spaces “because there may be a large number of people detained than before.”

Under the guidelines, the national agencies recommended open spaces for the detention of quarantine violators.

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