(AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
has threatened to arrest
Filipinos who refuse COVID-19 vaccination
and told them to leave the country if they do not cooperate with pandemic-containment efforts.
President Rodrigo Duterte, known for his public outbursts and brash rhetoric, said in televised remarks Monday night that he has grown frustrated with people
who refuse to get immunized and thus contribute to the spread of the coronavirus
“Don’t get me wrong. This country is in crisis. There is a national emergency. If you don’t want to be vaccinated, I’ll arrest you and inject the vaccine into your buttocks,” Duterte said.
“If you refuse to be vaccinated, leave the Philippines. Go to India
if you want or somewhere else, to America
,” he said, adding that he would direct village leaders to compile a list of defiant residents.
Edre Olalia, a human rights
lawyer, expressed concern about Duterte's threat, claiming that the president cannot order the arrest of anyone who has not clearly committed a crime
Duterte and his administration have come under fire for a vaccination campaign plagued by supply issues and public skepticism, which began in March after numerous delays.
Duterte blamed the problems on wealthy Western countries monopolizing vaccines
for their own citizens, leaving poorer countries such as the Philippines behind.
With more than 1.3 million cases and at least 23,749 deaths, the Philippines is a COVID-19 hotspot in Asia.