Duterte appeals to travel-eager public: Get vaccinated first

President Duterte has appealed to the public to delay their planned travels until they have completed their vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a public address on June 14, 2021 (Malacañang)

The President said he was aware people were "itching to travel" after months of mobility restrictions, but asked them to get vaccinated and follow the government's health protocols to prevent infection.

Duterte made the appeal after admitting the coronavirus outbreak was "hard to control" as the country continued to report cases of infections. The country's cases of coronavirus have reached more than 1.3 million, including 59,096 active cases and 22,845 deaths, as of June 14, 2021.

"Unless and until everybody is really vaccinated, huwag na muna tayong magpa (Let's not)... You know, I know that you want to go out. I know that you are itching to travel. But please, kung may --- kung may panahon lang na ibang --- may ibang panahon lang na magawa mo ‘yan (if there is another time to do it), do it at some other time," the President said in a televised address Monday, June 14.

"I hold everyone responsible for complying with the regulations," he added.

The President emphasized that vaccination was crucial to avoid severe coronavirus illness that may lead to death. As more coronavirus vaccines arrive in the country, he urged people to get inoculated when the opportunity comes.

"Now ulitin ko ulit: ‘pag hindi ka nagbakuna, mamamatay ka talaga (I repeat, if you won't get vaccinated, you will really die)," he said.

He said the Philippines was "better off" than other countries, which experience resurgence of infections, but he said the county was "no exception."

Duterte also said it was important for the public to continue to observe health protocols, including physical distancing, as he lamented reports that a food distribution event in Quezon left over 80 people infected with the coronavirus.

"As a matter of fact, ‘yong gustong malaman talaga ang sitwasyon ng COVID ng Pilipinas at vis-à-vis COVID Philippines, magbasa muna kayo and tingnan ninyo (As a matter of fact, you want to know the situation of COVID in the Philippines, read and see how the contamination is hard to control," he said.

"Pabalik-balik na lang ‘yan sila diyan (They keep on returning to the old situation). They have the spike, then they can put it under control, then they go to a lockdown, babalik na naman (and go back)," he said.

The President has extended the general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila and nearby areas but with restrictions until the end of the month. Some places however have been placed under stricter quarantine rules due to the rise in cases of infections. The government currently allows the operations of certain tourist attractions at limited capacity in more relaxed community quarantine levels.