The presidential spokesman tried to calm the public on Tuesday after President Rodrigo Duterte let off some cruel words against those still not vaccinated for Covid-19.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Congress would need to pass a law requiring Filipinos to get fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Duterte earlier said the government can use its police powers to compel citizens to get vaccinated for Covid-19, and that they were a “danger to society.”
“As long as there is a law, we can implement that so let’s put it into the proper context,” he said in a Palace press briefing.
Asked to clarify if Duterte’s new pronouncement meant he was urging the legislative branch to pass a law compelling the public to get vaccinated, he responded in the affirmative.
“Yes, of course. That’s the jurisdiction of Congress but the President can always certify an administration bill for such a law,” he added in Filipino.
Roque said several countries have turned to vaccine mandates to increase vaccination rates.
“The state really has the power to use police power to promote the good of the majority. But when it comes to the vaccine, let us wait, because we need a policy first,” he said in Filipino.
Roque also reiterated Duterte’s statement asking government workers who refused to get vaccinated to leave public service.
“I guess the President will start requiring mandatory vaccination among those working in government. But this is without prejudice to Congress passing a law,” he said partly in Filipino.
In a prerecorded public address aired Monday night, Duterte said the government can use its police power to compel citizens, particularly those living in areas with enough vaccine supply, to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
“This police power of the state can be implemented if you pose a threat to other people and maybe it would affect a large number of our people, then you are already a danger to society and therefore I said, contrary to the belief or opinion of others… I can compel you under the police power of the state,” Duterte said.
As of Monday, the Philippines administered a total of 44.361 million Covid-19 jabs. Of this number, 20.583 million are fully vaccinated.
Metro Manila had administered a total of 15.466 million Covid-19 shots. Of this number, 7.081 million have completed their doses.
The country aims to attain population protection by inoculating 50 to 60 percent of the population with a concentration in Metro Manila by year-end.