Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered local officials in the National Capital Region (NCR) to arrest unvaccinated individuals who refuse to stay at home.
“I’m now giving order 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 on Thursday, according to CNN Philippines. “And if [they] refuse and go around the community, [they] can be restrained.
“If [they] refuse, then the barangay captain, being a person in authority, is empowered now to arrest the recalcitrant persons.”
The Philippines recorded the highest daily COVID-19 infections – 17,220 cases – since Sept. 27, 2021, on Thursday. This surge, which includes Omicron infections, brings the country’s total tally to 2,888,917 cases, according to Rappler.
A wave of new COVID-19 cases following the holidays forced NCR mayors to convene and agree “in principle” to restrict the mobility of unvaccinated individuals. This means those who have not taken the jab can only leave home for the procurement of essential goods and services.
The rule also falls within policies under the government’s Alert Level 3 classification, which NCR placed from Jan. 3-15. However, it’s unclear whether those who have not been vaccinated can leave home for leisure after Jan. 15.
Duterte on Thursday added that he will be “happy to answer” legal challenges as a result of his directive, citing his pending case in the International Criminal Court (ICC) from his deadly war on drugs.
“I already have a pending case before the ICC. File more cases, so I can just respond to all of them in one go when the time comes,” he said.
The president still clarified that the unvaccinated will not be arrested right away.
“Please, talk to them first,” he urged local officials. “Being the President, ultimately, I am responsible for the safety and well-being of every Filipino, and that is why my orders are to restrain them.”