Many were shocked and relieved by President Rodrigo Duterte’s warning that those who do not want to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will be imprisoned.
This shocked many ordinary Filipinos, especially when Health officials said several times that it was not illegal to refuse to be vaccinated.
On Monday night, Duterte threatened to imprison those who do not want to be vaccinated.
“If you are a… person na hindi ka vaccinated, you are… a potential carrier [of COVID-19]… And to protect the people, I have to sequester you in jail… Mamili kayo: magpabakuna kayo o ipakulong ko kayo sa selda?” said Duterte.
“Don’t force my hand into it. Kung hindi kayo magpabakuna, umalis kayo sa Pilipinas. Go to India or America. But as long as you are here and you are a human being who can carry the virus, magpabakuna ka. ‘Pag hindi, ‘yung ivermectin na para sa baboy ang patira ko sa’yo,” Duterte added.
The President said he felt “exasperated” hearing reports of some Filipinos refusing the free COVID-19 vaccines provided by the government.
Many were shocked and disagreed.
Many shocked by Duterte’s threat to jail those refusing to be vaccinated
“Katulad ko ayaw ko magpa-vaccine, hindi naman po puwede na, ako’y may trabaho, kung ipapakulong po ako, paano na po ‘yung pamilya ko?” said Norien Albuena.
“Dapat siguro hindi muna agad ipadampot, dapat muna i-persuade ‘yung mga tao kung ano ‘yung mga effects, epekto ng bakuna,” said Jonathan Cerezo.
Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro also opposed the threat.
“Mali ito at hindi dapat ganito. Wala dapat pananakot o kaya banta,” he said.
The Department of Justice admitted that no law could be used as a basis for arrest but argued that Duterte knew about it.
“As a lawyer he knows that not getting vaccinated is a legal choice; there is no law as yet that compels vaccination against COVID-19, much less criminalizes it as presently available vaccines are still in their trial phase… I believe that the President merely used strong words to drive home the need for us to get vaccinated and reach herd immunity as soon as possible,” said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.