Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to send people to prison for refusing to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, as the government imposed border controls in the country on “heightened alert” about new cases of the Delta variant.
“You can choose: get the vaccine or I’ll send you to jail,” Duterte said in Tagalog during a prerecorded speech Monday night.
The Philippines started its vaccination program in March, but there have been reports of low turnout at various vaccination centers in the country, although people are also reportedly struggling to get Pfizer BioNtech’s limited supply of injections.
Duterte, admitting that he is becoming increasingly exasperated with “these fools” who refused to be vaccinated, threatened to inject them “with injections intended for pigs.”
“You are all stubborn.”
Duterte has also previously threatened to shoot Filipinos who violated confinement restrictions during the pandemic. Since that threat, there have been several cases of alleged offenders killed by the authorities, including an elderly man and a former soldier, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Of the country’s estimated 110 million population, only about 1.95 percent were fully vaccinated as of Monday, according to vaccine tracker Herd Immunity PH.
According to a separate government report Monday night, 8.4 million doses of vaccine have been administered. At least 6.2 million people have received their first dose, while 2.15 million are fully vaccinated.
As of Monday, the Philippines had reported 1.3 million coronavirus cases, with nearly 56,000 still active. Many of the new cases are attributed to increased infections in the Duterte political stronghold in Mindanao. More than 23,700 have died, including 138 on Monday.
Duterte said that those who refuse to get vaccinated should simply “leave the country” and go to India or the United States.
The Philippine medical community has been stepping up its efforts to encourage citizens to receive the coronavirus vaccine, opening vaccination sites in churches, shopping malls and movie theaters, so that Filipinos have easier access to vaccines.
The government has resorted to incentives to receive the COVID vaccine, including the delivery of livestock.
‘There is a crisis’
“A crisis is being faced in this country. There is a national emergency, ”Duterte added, while warning that he could order all village chiefs across the country to make a list of everyone who is not vaccinated.
Earlier in the day, the Philippine health department reported detecting four new cases of the highly infectious Delta variant, prompting the government to raise restrictions to a “higher alert” level.
“We want to further prevent the entry of this variant of the Delta,” said the spokeswoman for the Department of Health, María Rosario Vergeire, at a press conference on Monday.
“Everyone is on high alert,” Vergeire added, saying all local governments have been told to be “on guard.”
The four new cases come from Filipinos returning abroad, bringing the total officially detected cases to 17, with one death and one still in hospital.
The Delta variant was first detected in India, which is facing a health crisis following a spike in cases and tens of thousands of deaths this year.
To help contain the spread of the variant, the Philippines will maintain a ban on arrivals from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman and the United Arab Emirates until June 30.
Philippine laboratories also reported 14 more cases of the Alpha variant first detected in the UK, and 12 more cases of the Beta variant first detected in South Africa.
In the same speech Monday night, Duterte also directed his anger at the International Criminal Court, which is considering evidence before making a decision on whether to investigate his administration for allegations of “crimes against humanity” linked to its war against human rights. drugs in which thousands of people have died.
“This CPI sucks. Why would I defend myself or face an accusation before the whites? You must be crazy, ”the Philippine president falsely said about the international court, which is made up of 18 judges of different nationalities, ethnicities and genders.
“Our laws are different. Our criminal procedures are different. How are you supposed to do justice there? “