Duterte orders barangay execs to arrest unvaccinated who refuse to stay home

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 6) — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered barangay officials to arrest unvaccinated individuals who would insist on going outside of their residences, as the country faces yet another surge in COVID-19 cases.

"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. And if [they] refuse and go around the community, [they] can be restrained," Duterte said in his address to the public Thursday night. "If [they] refuse, then the barangay captain, being a person in authority, is empowered now to arrest the recalcitrant persons."

Duterte said barangay officials can "enforce all laws of the land within their jurisdiction," and may even mobilize civilians to "assist" them.

The President insisted he was in a "position" to restrain the unvaccinated, saying the government should "come up with measures to protect public interest, health, order, and safety" during the national emergency.

He also said he'd be "happy to answer" and accept responsibility, should he be subjected to legal challenges for the directive.

"Meron naman na akong kaso sa ICC (International Criminal Court), eh. 'Di, ipatong na ninyo para isang sagutan na lang pagdating ng panahon," he said.

[Translation: 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.]

Duterte, however, clarified in the latter part of his address that unvaccinated persons will not be arrested right away.

"Pakiusap lang [Talk to them first]," he said. "Eh, hindi ka nagpabakuna [You didn't get vaccinated], then you put everybody in jeopardy."

"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," Duterte said.

In Metro Manila, the unvaccinated are now prohibited from going out of their homes, except for essential trips.

Some officials and business leaders have been pushing for the restrictions to be implemented nationwide amid the spike in infections and the threat of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.