Vaccinating the population is the only way to gradually bring the country back to normalcy, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said Monday night as he appealed once again to Filipinos to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease.
During a meeting on government’s COVID-19 interventions, President Duterte said the government normally wouldn’t interfere with its citizens’ religious or political beliefs and reasoning, but deciding not to get vaccinated could seriously impact the country’s overall health and economic recovery because herd immunity can only be achieved through mass immunization.
Once herd immunity is achieved, it would be safe enough to gradually ease restrictions, President Duterte noted.
“I now encourage you — those who have yet to receive the vaccines — to get inoculated. Paulit-ulit kasi ‘to. We are almost pleading down on our knees, parang nakaluhod na kami nakikiusap sa taong-bayan ‘yung mga taong ayaw o hindi pa nagpabakuna at nandiyan naman ang available,” he said.
According to the President, individuals who refuse to get vaccinated even when vaccines become available in their locality are considered a “danger to society” and may compel him to invoke the police power of the state to protect the healthy population.
“You know, I do not want to advance this theory but under the police power of the state, everybody can be compelled to be vaccinated. Not because we do not believe in your theory or belief or your religion but because you are a carrier and a danger to society. Iyan ang problema diyan. It’s between your belief maybe, your religion, eh there is a division of you know religion and state,” he noted.
“Sa ordinaryong mga araw hindi naman nakikialam ang gobyerno ni minsan. Government has no power to compel any religion, faith, or church to do a certain thing or not to do a certain thing. We can only cooperate. But itong police power of the state na hahawain mo kapwa tao mo patayin mo and maybe it would affect a large number of our people, then you are already a danger to society,” he explained.
At the same time, the President warned government employees to leave the government if they refuse inoculation, especially those at the frontlines tasked to transact with people.
“Tama ‘yan sa gobyerno, ayaw mo magpabakuna, umalis ka. Go out of government. Why? Because when you are with the government you face people, people transact business officials, well, audiences or visits. Eh kung ikaw ang carrier, ‘wag mong sabihin na ang relihiyon mo o ayaw ng aming paniwala o I just don’t believe it.”
“If everybody does not comply with the vaccines and we can have a wildfire spread, then the police must go in and intervene in your private life so that you cannot be a danger to society,” he added.
Likewise, Duterte also chastised doctors and lawyers who try to convince the public against getting vaccinated.
“Sana kung ganito naman na ayaw mo, huwag ka na lang — tumahimik ka na lang… But there’s a, you know, freedom of speech in our country. Hindi kami nag-aano diyan. But sana naman you will go by the almost general trend all over the world na vaccination or to get vaccinated or inoculated is really the best defense for yourself and for your fellowmen,” he said.
The President also made an assurance that his administration is doing all that it can to encourage individuals to get the jab without “instilling fear” or threatening citizens to get immunized.
Citing a report from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the chief executive said majority of the unvaccinated persons who got infected with COVID-19 are likely to get hospitalized with more severe or critical conditions.
On the other hand, out of 13.8 million, only 242 fully vaccinated individuals contracted the disease, or merely 0.0017 percent of the total figures.
“Iyong karamihan ‘pag naospital hindi na-vaccine-an, walang vaccines, serious kaagad. You get what? You are in the critical list because, well, pagka critical ka, buksan ‘yung bunganga mo, buksan lahat, then ii-intubate ka,” he said.
“So I ask our kababayans to please get vaccinated when your turn comes so you can protect yourself and your loved ones.”
According to the country’s vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the Philippines expects to receive at least 100 million vaccine doses by the end of October this year and aims to expand the immunization drive to include the general population as well as children.
More than 20.3 million Filipinos, or 26 percent of the country’s eligible population have been fully vaccinated, while 23.6 million have received at least their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Overall, government has administered a total of 44 million doses.
Economic centers across the country like Metro Manila, Baguio City, Cebu City, Iloilo City, and Davao City have also surpassed 50 percent vaccination of the target population. PND