Duterte says state can use police power to compel vaccination

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2021 10:40 PM

Essential workers residing in Magalang, Pampanga receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine through the Office of the Vice President’s Vaccine Express initiative on September 25, 2021. Charlie Villegas, OVP/file
Essential workers residing in Magalang, Pampanga receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine through the Office of the Vice President’s Vaccine Express initiative on September 25, 2021. Charlie Villegas, OVP/file

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said the government can invoke the police power of the state to compel COVID-19 vaccination on those who refuse to do so.

According to Duterte, the state can use its authority to compel everyone to get vaccinated, especially those who refuse to do so based on their personal beliefs or religion.

"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. If it's not yet there in your place, hindi pa dumating 'yung mga supply, well, perfectly understood," he said in a taped public address.

(We are almost pleading down on our knees. We are almost kneeling down, asking the people, those who refuse to get vaccinated even when it is available. If it's not yet there in your place, if the supply is not yet available, then that is perfectly understood.)

"Pero 'yung nandiyan na at ayaw ninyo, o talagang may pinag-isipan. 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. 'Yan ang problema diyan. It's between your belief maybe, your religion, eh there is a division of religion and state," Duterte added.

(But if it is already there and you still refuse. 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. That is the problem. It's between your belief maybe, your religion, but there is a division of religion and state.)

Duterte said this is the only time that the government will ask people to do something against their beliefs or religion, since it is a matter of public safety.

"Ngayon, 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, and therefore I said, contrary to the belief or opinion of others, I, opinyon ko lang 'yan, can compel you under the police power of the state," he said.

(On ordinary days, the government doesn't meddle. Not even once, the 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 the police power of the state can be invoked if you are putting other people at risk, and maybe it would affect a large number of people, then you are already a danger to society, and therefore I said, contrary to the belief or opinion of others, I, this is only my opinion, can compel you under the police power of the state.)

This is not the first time Duterte threatened to use police power against those who refuse to get vaccinated. 

In June, he said he'll send to jail those who refuse to get vaccinated. Just last month, he said barangay officials should monitor the vaccination status in their areas and bar unvaccinated people from going outside their houses.

As of Monday, the Philippines has fully vaccinated at least 20 million people against COVID-19.

Authorities have administered some 43.9 million COVID-19 shots nationwide, of which around 22.5 million were first jabs, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.

At least 20,307,122 people were fully vaccinated as of Sunday, he said in a press briefing. The national target is 77.1 million.