Duterte Says Vaccine Refusers in the Philippines Should Be Detained at Home
MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said local authorities should detain people who refuse Covid-19 vaccinations inside their homes, a move that legal experts say would be unconstitutional.
In a late-night public speech on Wednesday, Mr Duterte argued that the urgency of the coronavirus outweighed laws guaranteeing freedom of movement, calling his order a “law of necessity.”
“If they don’t want to be vaccinated, they shouldn’t be allowed to leave their homes,” Duterte said. “They may say there is no law, but must I wait for a law knowing that many will die?” “
In his speech on Wednesday, Mr Duterte said village leaders – elected officials who sit at the lowest level of local government in urban and rural areas – should force people who will not be vaccinated to stay at home and that , if asked, they might answer that they were acting on “the mayor’s orders”, a reference to the strongman approach he used when he was long-time mayor of the southern city of Davao .
Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Advocates in the Philippines, said the president’s order was unconstitutional and dangerous, and “reflects his militaristic mindset.” While there is some hesitation about vaccines in the Philippines, especially after a dengue vaccination campaign in 2017 resulted in dozens of deaths, Mr Olalia said demand for the vaccines exceeded a supply that is hampered by distribution bottlenecks and erratic delivery.
“There are actually a lot of people who want to get vaccinated but are just waiting to be called in by the government,” Olalia said. “The point is, is the vaccine rollout enough? For the record, no. There were long lines.
According to a New York Times tracker, less than 6% of the Philippines’ 108 million people have been fully immunized. The country has recorded the second highest number of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia, and has reported dozens of cases of the Delta variant since May, when the country’s first Delta cases were found in two workers returning from abroad.
Manila authorities on Sunday imposed tighter restrictions, including closing gyms, cutting capacity at restaurants and other businesses, and a nighttime curfew. Children between the ages of 5 and 17 are not allowed to leave their homes.
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