MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night acknowledged that those who refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19 cannot be arrested, saying there is “democracy” in the country.
“Kayong mga ayaw magpabakuna, okay lang sa akin. Ganito ‘yan eh, ideally talagang -- kung talagang -- what would we say, pilitin ng gobyerno (Those of you who do not want to get vaccinated, it’s fine for me. It’s like this, ideally, the government would force you), but this is a democracy. We cannot arrest you if you go out or I cannot enforce totally a rule unless, of course, ‘yung mga sa mga barangay (in barangays),” he said in a pre-recorded talk to the people.
Duterte, however, warned that Covid-19 may just “circulate in the air for years” if they refuse to get vaccinated and observe minimum public health standards.
“I think, for the next how many years, hindi na mawala ‘yan. Iyon na ang style. Wala na tayo ‘yung sabing pasyal ng gabi, wala na (it won’t go away. That’s already the style. We can’t go out at night anymore),” he said.
Despite his remark, Duterte encouraged the public to get their Covid-19 jabs as soon as possible.
“Ang ating depensa lang talaga is iwas, balay [bahay] (Our only defense is to observe physical distancing, stay home), tapos wash your hands, do not go out when it is not necessary. Bakuna, kung mayroong bakuna (and vaccines, if there are vaccines) -- as long as there is a supply nearby na ang punta ninyo, magpabakuna na kaagad kayo para sigurado (get vaccinated just to be sure),” he added.
He said getting inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine is the only way to stop deaths.
“It will continue to claim lives, kayong mga Pilipino makinig kayo sa akin, kung hindi kayo magpabakuna (Filipinos, listen to me, if you don’t want to get vaccinated),” he said.
Duterte, in a July 28 public address, ordered the police and barangay officials to prevent unvaccinated people from going outside, telling them to escort them back to their homes if they did.
The Department of Health (DOH) has assured that all Covid-19 vaccines in the country are cleared for emergency use and are safe and effective against preventing severe illness and deaths caused by Covid-19.
As of Aug. 16, the Philippines has administered a total of 28,308,493 Covid-19 vaccines doses. Of this number, 12,743,082 have been fully vaccinated.
The Covid-19 vaccine brands that are currently part of the Philippines’ inventory and have been cleared for emergency use are Sinovac, Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sputnik V, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson. (PNA)