MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he favors mandatory vaccination against Covid-19 should the government’s Covid-19 task force start to implement the policy.
“As a worker of government also in charge of the overall operations of the government, I may agree with the task force [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] if they decide to make it mandatory. It’s for public health,” Duterte said in a televised meeting with the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 and medical experts in Malacañan Palace.
He acknowledged that a law is needed to mandate Filipinos to receive the Covid-19 vaccine shots, but reiterated that government can also use its police power to compel citizens to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
“Government can issue measures that would protect public health, public safety, public order. It’s in the police state. So in some countries, mandatory na (already),” he added. “Under the police power of the state, I can compel you.”
Duterte said he lost so many friends to Covid-19 so he could not fathom why there were still people who refused the Covid-19 vaccine.
“Itong mga tao na ayaw talaga magbakuna (These are people who refused to get vaccinated) because of whatever… religious. I mean no offense, pero yung ayaw magpabakuna, madali naman ‘yan, mamili kayo (but to those who don’t want to get vaccinated, choose), early demise or live longer?” he asked.
Duterte’s preference for a mandatory vaccination policy comes amid the looming threat of Omicron, a new Covid-19 variant first detected in Botswana, Southern Africa.
To date, the Philippines imposed tighter travel restrictions to prevent the entry of the Omicron variant.
Meanwhile, Duterte suggested keeping Covid-19 vaccination sites open daily to accommodate more individuals who are too busy to get inoculated on weekdays.
“We make the vaccine stations open kung maari (if we can do it) Monday to Sunday even if it would mean a lesser crowd. Ang importante kasi dito mabakuna kasi hawa ito, hawa lahat (What’s important is that we get everyone vaccinated because if one gets contaminated, others get it too),” he said.
He also renewed his call for the public to participate in the country’s three-day nationwide vaccination drive from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.
“Pag wala kang bakuna, magpabakuna ka (If you haven’t received the vaccine yet) now is the time to do it because it's a day dedicated to vaccination. So itong private pati public offices pagka magpabakuan yung trabahante ninyo (To private and public offices, if your employees want to get vaccinated), allow them to go out and have the vaccine,” he said.
Dubbed Bayanihan, Bakunahan, the event aims to vaccinate around 9 million individuals in 8,000 sites across 16 regions nationwide.
The country aims to fully vaccinate a total of 54 million Filipinos by the end of the year.
Proclamation No. 1253, which formally declared Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 as “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” National Covid-19 Vaccination Days, excuses public and private sector employees who want to get their Covid-19 vaccine jabs.
“Employees and workers of the government and the private sector, who will be vaccinated during the period, shall not be considered absent from their work, provided that they present proof of vaccination to their respective employers, subject to rules that may be issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC),” the proclamation read. (PNA)