Senators criticize Duterte’s arrest threat to COVID-19 vaccine skeptics
MANILA, Philippines — Some senators on Tuesday questioned President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat of arrest versus people refusing to get inoculated against the COVID-19 disease.
“If one refuses inoculation, what law did he/she violate?” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a tweet.
If one refuses inoculation, what law did he/she violate?
— Tito Sotto (@sotto_tito) June 22, 2021
“There are many ways of convincing our people to undergo vaccination without resorting to unlawful actions,” he added in a separate message to reporters when sought for comment on Duterte’s admonishment.
In his weekly Monday night briefing, Duterte warned of having those who decline COVID-19 vaccination arrested.
“If you don’t want to get vaccinated, I will have you arrested. And I will inject the vaccine in your butt. [CURSES]. You are pests. We are already suffering and you’re adding to the burden,” the nation’s top leader said, speaking partly in Filipino.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, in an INQside Look interview, said threats and making arrests will not flatten the COVID-19 curve in the country.
“Hindi banta, hindi aresto ang magfa-flatten ng curve ng COVID-19 dito sa Pilipinas, lalo na dito sa bagong Delta variant. Mula sa simula, sinasabi ko na public health crisis ito kaya public health approach ang epektibo,” she said.
(Not threats, not arrests will flatten the COVID-19 curve here in the Philippines, especially now with the new Delta variant. I have been saying from the start that this is a public health crisis so a public health approach would be effective.)
“Hindi mo babantaan, hindi mo aarestuhin ‘yung mga kababayan natin na may vaccine hesitancy kundi gawin nating ang lahat ng tamang hakbang para precisely itaas ‘yung vaccine confidence nila,” she added.
(You should not threaten, you should not arrest our fellow Filipinos who are hesitant to get vaccinated. Instead, we should do every step we can to increase the public’s vaccine confidence.)
To do this, she stressed the need to ramp up the information campaign of the Department of Health and to ensure there would no longer be delays in the arrival of vaccines to the country.
“So maglikha tayo ng (let’s create a) conducive environment so majority of us Filipinos ay makapagpabakuna talaga (will really get vaccinated),” Hontiveros said.
Senator Joel Villanueva, for his part, said he favors educating the public on the importance of vaccination instead of penalizing individuals who opt not to get the COVID-19 shots.
“Sa totoo lang po, wala po tayong maisip kung anong violation ang pwedeng ipataw sa mga ayaw magpabakuna. Edukasyon pa rin po sa pagpapabakuna ang susi. With all due respect, we can probably talk about penalties if we already have a surplus of vaccines. Until now, marami pa rin po ang gusto magpabakuna na hindi mabakunahan,” he said in a statement.
(To be honest, I can’t think of any violation that can be imposed on those who do not want to be vaccinated. Education about the vaccine is still key. With all due respect, we can probably talk about penalties if we already have a surplus of vaccines. Until now, there are a lot of people who want to get vaccinated but are not able to do so.)
“Kung marami na po tayong bakuna, may surplus na, pwede po natin siguro gayahin ‘yung mga LGUs (local government units) na nagre-reward ng prizes, instead of punishment. If cash-strapped local governments have found creative ways to market the vaccines, then the national government with far more resources can do more,” he added.
(If we have a lot of vaccines, there’s a surplus of doses, then we can copy the LGUs that give prizes for those vaccinated, instead of punishment. If cash-strapped local governments have found creative ways to market the vaccines, then the national government with far more resources can do more.)
Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, pointed to the issue of vaccine supply as the “biggest problem” in the COVID-19 inoculation drive of the government.
“May problema tayo sa supply. It’s not as if ayaw ng mga kababayan natin magpabakuna [We have a problem with supply. It’s not as if our fellow Filipinos do not want to get vaccinated],” Binay said in an earlier television interview.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, on the other hand, said solutions to the pandemic should not impose fear on the public but should be based on science.
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