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Take the Covid-19 vaccine or get put in jail, threatens Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

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Philippines Vaccination
A health worker prepares a Sinovac vaccine dose in Manila, the Philippines Ted Aljibe/Getty Images
  • Philippines President Duterte lashed out at anti-vaxxers on Monday, threatening to jail those who refuse the Covid-19 vaccine.

  • He also said he would order officials to inoculate anti-vaxxers with a drug meant for animals.

  • But Duterte has not provided the legal basis for his arrest order yet, reported The Philippine Star.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to arrest those who refuse Covid-19 vaccines, as the nation grapples with one of Asia's worst outbreaks.

The Philippines has recorded 1.3 million cases and 23,000 deaths. It has also recorded 17 cases of the delta variant that has been rampaging across India, reported local website Rappler.

"If you don't want to get vaccinated, I'll have you arrested then I'll inject a vaccine into your buttocks," said Duterte in a televised address on Monday.

"Get vaccinated, or I'll jail you in a cell," he said.

He also told those who do not want the vaccine to leave the Philippines and "go to India if you want, or America, or somewhere."

"But for as long as you are here and you are a human being and can carry the virus, you should get vaccinated," he said.

He threatened to keep a record of people refusing vaccinations and inoculate them with Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug for animals that is rumored to help treat Covid-19 but is not approved, reported The Philippine Star.

However, Duterte did not provide any legal basis for his orders. Justice Secretary Menardo Gueverra told The Philippine Star's Kristine Patag that there is no law in the country yet that criminalizes refusing to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

Gueverra added that he believed Duterte "merely used strong words to drive home the need for us to get vaccinated and reach herd immunity as soon as possible."

Duterte has previously said he would not obey court rulings regarding his handling of the pandemic after being questioned by lawyers from the province of Cebu.

If his new arrest order is realised, it will be the harshest measure the Philippines has introduced to counter the pandemic so far.

"I will think it over very hard, legally of course, in pursuance of a policy of crisis, this health issue," said Duterte during the televised speech, according to Rappler.

A spokesperson from his office said on Tuesday that the government would hold off on implementing the these orders until Congress passes a law that allows such arrests, reported the Philippine news site.

The Philippines vaccine rollout has been relatively slow. Only 5.7% of its 110 million population as of Sunday has received one dose. An early May survey by social research organization Social Weather Stations found that only one third of Filipinos were willing to get vaccinated, with the rest citing fears over side effects and that the vaccines are unsafe.

"Don't get me wrong, there is a crisis in this country. I'm just exasperated by Filipinos not heeding the government," said Duterte.

Read the original article on Insider