In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, January 6, 2022, President Rodrigo R. Duterte directed barangay officials to look for unvaccinated people and make sure they were confined to their homes.
“If he refuses, if he goes out his house and goes around the community, he can be restrained. If he refuses, the captain is empowered now to arrest recalcitrant persons,” Duterte said.
The barangay captain could also mobilize other citizens and deputize them as his agents, he also added.
Daily coronavirus infections in the Philippines hit the highest since Sept. 26 at 17,220 cases on Thursday, the health ministry said, including those caused by the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Coronavirus vaccinations are voluntary in the nation of more than 100 million people, and less than half the population have so far completed their jabs.
Duterte said he was “appalled” at the large numbers of Filipinos yet to be vaccinated.
“If you don’t get a jab you put everybody in jeopardy,” he said, with the virus “galloping in our community, in our country, and in the world”.
New infections surged to more than 17,000 on Thursday, rising more than threefold from Tuesday’s toll, according to health department data. The disease has infected 2.9 million people in the country, nearly 52,000 of whom have died.
“I am responsible for the safety and well-being of every Filipino,” Duterte said as he challenged those who disapprove of his directive to file a case against him.
At the end of last year, 49.8 million people had been fully vaccinated, or 45% of the country’s 110 million people. Under existing rules, unvaccinated people in the capital region of Manila can only step out of their homes for essential trips.