President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday threatened to use the police power of the state to compel people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Duterte made the remark in his Talk to the People to press the Philippines' bid for herd immunity against COVID-19 anchored on the vaccination program.
"If it is not yet there in your place, 'di pa dumating ang supply well perfectly understood. Pero 'yung nandiyan na at ayaw ninyo o talagang may pinag-isipan," Duterte said.
"You know, I do not want to advance this theory, but under the police power of the state, everybody can be compelled to vaccination," he added.
"Not because we do not believe in your religion but because you are a carrier or a danger to society. 'Yan ang problema diyan. It's between your belief maybe, your religion, e there is a division of religion and state," Duterte said.
Duterte cited the principle of the separation of church and state but indicated that police power would intervene when it came to vaccination.
"Sa ordinaryong mga araw, 'di nakikialam ang gobyerno. Ni minsan government has no power to compel any religion or church to not to do a certain thing," Duterte said.
"It can only cooperate but itong police power ng state na hahawain mo kapwa tao mo patayin mo and maybe it would affect a large number of our people then you are a danger to society," he added.
As of September 27, fully vaccinated Filipinos reached 20.3 million which is only 26.33% of the country's population.
The Department of Health said vaccination was not mandatory but its benefits outweighed the risk.
Duterte said the police may "intervene in the private life" of people who would not get vaccinated.
"If everyone does not comply with vaccination, we have wildfire spread (of virus), then police must go in and intervene in your private life so you can not be in danger to society," Duterte said.
He also asked professionals such as doctors and lawyers to prevent making dangerous statements against COVID-19 vaccination as the public might get convinced.
"Whether you are a doctor, a specialist, practitioner or general, kapag doctor ka o abogado medyo may kabigatan ang salita natin," Duterte said.
"If you are convincing in your arguments, people might listen to you and that could be a problem. Sana kung ganito na ayaw mo manahimik ka na lang," he added.
"There is freedom of speech in the country but sana naman you will go by the general trend all over the world to get vaccinated or inoculated... It is really the best defense for yourself and fellow men," Duterte said.
As COVID-19 pandemic continues to infect Filipinos, Duterte said normalcy may return after two to three years.
But he said it might shorten if the country reached herd immunity.
"We would not be able to return to the old norm mga ano pa siguro two to three years. Pero 'pag ang mga tao nandiyan ang bakuna, magpabakuna kaagad, maminimize yan," Duterte said.
"If God helps us, we can have steady supply of vaccines," he added. -NB, GMA News