President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he would impose a nationwide vaccine mandate if the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases recommended it.

In a “Talk to the People” address, Duterte said making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory would protect public health.

“I am not joking, but you know, as a worker of government also in charge [of] the overall operation of the government, I may agree with the [IATF] if they decide to make it mandatory. It’s for public health,” the president said.

“Kung ayaw mo, huwag kang lumabas. Wala mang problema na ayaw kang magpabakuna. Huwag kang lumabas ng bahay kasi ‘pag nahawa ka, diretso hawa ulit,” he added.

Duterte said he could use the “police power of the state” to compel the unvaccinated to get jabs.

“[I]n some countries, mandatory na [ang vaccination]. Dito, maingay ang human rights [groups],” he added.

Several groups have opposed the notion of making vaccination mandatory in the Philippines due to inequity of distribution among provinces.

According to the Department of Health’s vaccination dashboard, 82,407,303 Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered as of Nov. 29.

Of this number, 46,274,962 doses have been given as the first dose, while 35,898,392 were used to fully vaccinate Filipinos. More than 233,000 doses have been used as booster shots.

The Philippines has received 142,153,340 Covid-19 vaccine doses since February. John Ezekiel J. Hirro