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Duterte orders barangays to 'restrain' unvaccinated, arrest those who refuse

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday ordered barangay officials to direct persons yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to stay at home amid the steep spike in cases believed driven by the Omicron variant.

In his Talk to the People, Duterte invoked his authority as Chief Executive amid a national emergency to order the mobility restriction on the unvaccinated.

"In the absence of a law, the President is called upon to act and because it is a national emergency, it is my position that we can restrain," Duterte said.

He added that barangay chairpersons could enforce all the laws of the land "within his community."

"I am now giving orders to the barangay captains to look for those persons who are not vaccinated and just request them or order them if you may to stay put," Duterte said.

He said barangay chairpersons could arrest these unvaccinated persons if they refused to cooperate.

"If he refuses, if he goes out of the house and goes around  the community or wherever magpunta, he can be restrained. If he refuses, the barangay captain being a person of authority have the power to arrest," Duterte said.

He also asked barangay captains to mobilize civilians as regards the task of restricting movement of unvaccinated people.

"And a person in authority, the barangay captain, can also mobilize civilians and give them the task, probably written, called upon to assist the persons of authority they become agents of persons of authority," Duterte said.

'Add to ICC case'

Duterte said he would welcome any case which may be filed against over his order to restrain the unvaccinated at home.

"That is my position... They can file cases I'd be happy to answer," Duterte said.

"Mayroon naman akong kaso naman ako sa ICC, e'di ipatong na lang ninyo," he added.

Duterte defended his directive, saying that he was responsible for the health of Filipinos.

"But as I hate to say these words being the president, ultimately, I am responsible for  the safety and well being of every Filipino," Duterte said.

"That is why my orders are to restrain them," he added.

'No need for immediate arrest'

At one point, Duterte said barangay officials need not to immediately arrest the unvaccinated people. 

"'Di naman agad arestuhin basta pakiusapan lang. E 'di ka nagpabakuna then you put everybody in jeopardy.  You get contaminated, dalhin mo, ngayon pero pamilya, per bahay ang contamination," Duterte said.

The Philippines has yet to reach its vaccination target of 54 million with only more than 51 million people vaccinated against COVID-19, according to government data. —NB, GMA News