Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to jail anyone in his country who refuses to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as the Southeast Asian country reaches more than 1.3 million cases of the coronavirus and 23,000 deaths.
As of June 20, Philippine authorities had fully vaccinated 2.1 million people, but the government has target to immunize up to 70 million people in the country of 110 million this year.
“You choose, vaccine or I will have you jailed,” Duterte said in a televised address on Monday, June 21 following reports of low turnouts at several vaccination sites in the capital, Manila.
Health officials in the country have said that while people are urged to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, it was voluntary.
“Don’t get me wrong, there is a crisis in this country,” Duterte said. “I’m just exasperated by Filipinos not heeding the government.”
Duterte also stood by his decision not to let schools reopen as critics claim he has been high-handed in the way he has handled the covid-19 outbreak in his country so far.
Duterte then took a swipe at the International Criminal Court, after an ICC prosecutor had sought permission from the court for a full inquiry into the killing of drug lords and peddlers in the Philippines.
Duterte in March 2018 canceled the Philippines’ membership of the ICC’s founding treaty, and in his Monday address repeated he will not cooperate with the probe, describing the ICC as “bulls**t.”
“Why would I defend or face an accusation before white people. You must be crazy,” Duterte said, who after winning the presidency in 2016 unleashed an anti-narcotics campaign that has killed thousands, according to France24.
Human rights groups say authorities have summarily executed drug suspects, but Duterte maintained those who were killed violently resisted arrest, the media outlet reported.