MANILA, June 22 (Reuters) – President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to jail people who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as the Philippines battles one of Asia’s worst outbreaks, with over 1.3 million cases and more than 23,000 deaths.
“You choose, vaccine or I will have you jailed,” Duterte said in a televised address on Monday following reports of low turnouts at several vaccination sites in the capital Manila.
Duterte’s remarks contradict those of his health officials who 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.”
As of June 20, Philippine authorities had fully vaccinated 2.1 million people, making slow progress towards the government’s target to immunise up to 70 million people this year in a country of 110 million.