President Duterte’s threat to arrest people who refuse to get vaccinated against the coronavirus was just to emphasize the importance of receiving COVID-19 jabs to protect their health, his spokesman said on Tuesday, June 22.
In his virtual media briefing, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque noted the government can require mandatory vaccination since the country is in national health emergency because of the pandemic.
“Unang-una (First of all), it’s to emphasize the point na bagama’t boluntaryo ngayon ang pagbabakuna dahil nga po mayroong state of public emergency dahil sa pandemya, pupuwedeng gawin po iyan ng estado (that vaccination now is voluntary because there is state of public emergency due to the pandemic, the state can do that),” he said.
The Palace official, however, acknowledged while jurisprudence allows the government to compel mandatory vaccination, it still needs a law or ordinance to allow the arrest of anti-vaxxers.
“So malinaw po iyan, sa jurisprudence po ng Pilipinas at ng Amerika, pupuwede pong ma-compel, pupuwede pong ipatupad ang compulsory vaccination pero kinakailangan po may legal na basehan (So it is clear under the jurisprudence of the Philippines and America, the compulsory vaccination can be implemented but it needs a legal basis),” he said.
Roque explained the State has an inherit power to implement policies, even if it could violate rights, in order to protect public health.
During his taped public address on Monday night, the Chief Executive warned those who refuse to get vaccinated that he will send them to jail.
“Mamili kayo: Magpabakuna kayo o ipakulong ko kayo sa selda (Choose: Get vaccinated or I’ll put you in jail),” Duterte said.
He also gave anti-vaxxers two choices: get anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin or leave the country since they don’t want to join the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program.
The Palace official told reporters not to literally interpret these statements of Duterte.
“You know, that’s his way of saying, ‘Have yourselves vaccinated,” Roque said.