MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte has said he wants to address the country's vaccine hesitancy problem by letting authorities vaccinate individuals averse to COVID-19 shots while they are asleep.
Duterte, in his talk to the people in Malacañang, said he would even personally lead the campaign.
"'Yan ang problema, 'yung ayaw magpabakuna. Kaya hanapin niyo 'yan sa barangay niyo, akyatin natin, 'pag tulog, at turukin natin ang mga natutulog. Para makumpleto 'yung istorya,” Duterte said in a video aired on Tuesday.
(Those who refuse to get vaccinated, that's the problem. You should look for them in your barangays and let us vaccinate them when they are asleep. This is to complete the story)
“E kung ayaw, akyatin sa bahay eh. Tusukin natin sa gabi. Ako ang mag-ano. I will lead the journey.”
(If they don't want to get vaccinated, let us go to their homes and vaccinate them there. I will personally lead the journey.)
He also pointed out to the Filipino public that the country's COVID-19 response is centered on its vaccination rollout.
ABS-CBN News sought the comment of the Commission on Human Rights regarding the matter, but they have yet to respond as of this story's posting.
The media are also waiting for the response of the Department of Health regarding the President's proposal.
Duterte in July drew flak for telling barangay and police not to allow unvaccinated people outdoors, and to escort them back to their homes when they venture outside.
CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia earlier pointed out that the country's vaccine supply is still limited, adding that the government's immunization program is hounded by vaccine hesitancy driven by circulating misinformation.
In late September, Duterte said the government could invoke the police power of the state to compel COVID-19 vaccination on those who refuse to do so.
"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," the President said in a taped public address on Sept. 27.
(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.)
Philippine authorities this week started immunization of the general population in some parts of the country, just as they are gearing to start vaccinating children 12 to 17 years old in Metro Manila.
Nearly 23.2 million individuals out of the target 77 million have been fully vaccinated in the country, government data showed.
Almost 26.5 million people, on the other hand, are partially vaccinated in the Philippines.
-- with reports from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News