President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has threatened to imprison everyone who refuses to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Duterte called the COVID-19 outbreak a “crisis” and a “national emergency” in a public address, warning that individuals who refuse to get inoculated will be arrested or deported.
“You choose, get vaccinated or I will have you jailed,” he said.
“I’m telling you those police jails are filthy and foul-smelling and police are slow to clean them. That is where you’ll be.”
Those who do not want to be vaccinated should “leave the Philippines” and travel to India or the United States, he said.
With only about 2% of the population immunized, the Philippines has struggled to get vaccines out.
Former rights lawyer and Duterte spokesman Harry Roque stated that while Philippine law allows a president to compel mandatory vaccination, such measures should be backed up by legislation.
Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, told The New York Times imposing jail time for those who refuse vaccinations would be illegal.
“There is no law that specifically empowers the president to order such arrests for said reasons, even if this is a health emergency,” Olalia said.