Featured Image
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte holds up a vial of Sinovac Biotech's COVID-19 vaccines as he witnesses the arrival of a shipment of the vaccines at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on February 28, 2021 in Manila, Philippines. Photo by Ezra Acayan / Getty Images

MANILA, Philippines, June 24, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has issued an ultimatum to citizens who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine. “You choose,” he said in a televised address. “Vaccine, or I will have you jailed.”

In a video released by The Guardian, Duterte says, “I’m telling you, those police jail cells are filthy and foul-smelling, police are lazy in cleaning. That is where you’ll be.”

The video then cuts to Duterte adding, “You get vaccinated, otherwise I will order all the village heads to have a tally of the people who refuse to be vaccinated.”

In a part of the address not included in The Guardian’s short segment, Duterte also reportedly said, “There is a national emergency. If you don’t want to be vaccinated, I’ll have you arrested and have the vaccine shot in your [buttocks].” He used “a vulgar term,” according to the Washington Post.

Later in the video Duterte suggested that if Filipinos refuse the vaccine he will “inject them with Ivermectin, which is intended for pigs.”

Many doctors have spoken in favor of Ivermectin, an inexpensive widely-used anti-parasitic drug that has been proven to be very successful in curing other illnesses, as an effective treatment for the Wuhan coronavirus, but they have been routinely shut down by public health authorities as “misinformation.” Yet, in the latest of a string of reversals in the coronavirus narrative, a Tuesday report from Reuters indicates that Oxford University researchers are now exploring Ivermectin for treating COVID-19.

Duterte’s threats to force vaccination upon citizens or jail them for noncompliance currently have no legal backing.

Vaccination is currently “strongly encouraged” but not required in the Philippines. Justice Secretary of the Philippines Menardo Guevarra clarified on Tuesday that refusing to get the injection was not a violation of the law.

Human rights lawyer Edre Olalia, who is the president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in the Philippines, told the New York Times that jailing citizens who refuse to get vaccinated against the coronavirus would be illegal.

“There is no law that specifically empowers the president to order such arrests for said reasons, even if this is a health emergency,” Olalia said.

Duterte has a long track record of making extreme threats. Last year he threatened to jail anybody not wearing a mask and even suggested that those disobeying lockdown rules might be shot. Despite high compliance with mask and lockdown requirements in the country, Duterte’s militarized approach to suppressing movement and enforcing COVID-19 protocols led to the arrests of over 76,000 people by as early as July 2020.

To date there have been a reported 1.3 million “cases” and 23,000 coronavirus infections in the Philippines. Official estimates put the number of Filipinos who have been “fully” vaccinated at 2.1 million out of the nation’s population of 110 million.

Vaccine hesitancy has been high among Filipinos after a 2017 mass vaccination program led to the deaths of several children. Following the vaccination of over 800,000 children with a novel dengue vaccine, the vaccine manufacturer released a finding of an “increased risk of severe dengue for vaccinated seronegative patients,” leading to outrage among Filipinos who argued that the vaccines were to blame for the deaths and that the Philippine Department of Health was corrupt.

In addition to threatening vaccine-hesitant citizens with arrest, Duterte has blamed the low rates of vaccination in his country on Western nations, which he claims are stockpiling their vaccine supply for their own citizens.

While Duterte is known for making wild claims and threats, he is not alone among world leaders in doing so. Throughout the pandemic many leaders have taken to threatening citizens with arrest or other severe penalties for breaking “quarantine,” showing their faces in public, attending large gatherings, or socializing in small groups. The Western media typically are critical of “right-wing” Duterte in their reporting, though, whereas left-wing government leaders and their draconian coronavirus policies are given a pass.

Under Premier Dan Andrews in Victoria, Australia, police made headlines for a number of abusive methods last year, including arresting a pregnant woman in her home for allegedly organizing a protest on social media, tackling a bicyclist for failing to submit to a permit check, and using brutal tactics to arrest dozens of anti-lockdown protesters.

In the U.S. the COVID-19 response has varied among Republican and Democrat states, with Republican-led states increasingly moving to limit public health agency powers to restrict citizens’ freedom. Meanwhile Democrat-led states have much harsher COVID-19 measures (which do not correspond to lower rates of death or better public health outcomes) and encourage citizens to report noncompliance. Los Angeles even shut off electricity for residents holding house parties in defiance of the city’s health orders.

In Canada, Ontario Premier Doug Ford drew fire in April for broadening police authority to allow officers to stop Canadians spotted outside their homes, forcing them to provide their addresses and explain why they were outside. Ford later apologized and retracted some but not all of the restrictions. Until the stay-at-home order was lifted June 2, police were still permitted to stop Canadians if they believed they were headed to an “organized public event or social gathering.”

LifeSiteNews has produced an extensive COVID-19 vaccines resources page. View it here.