Philippines: Manila Bans Unvaccinated from Leaving Homes, Duterte Threatens Arrest

In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte holds a vial containing the Sinovac vaccine from China as it arrives at the Villamor Air Base in Manila, Philippines on Sunday Feb. 28, 2021. The Philippines received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine Sunday, among …
Toto Lozano/ Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP

Metro Manila’s government issued an edict this week forbidding residents unvaccinated against the Chinese coronavirus from leaving their homes for non-essential reasons for an indefinite amount of time as part of the region’s effort to contain a surging caseload of the disease, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported Thursday.

“Unvaccinated people living in or near the Philippine capital have been ordered to stay home,” according to the Hong Kong-based newspaper. “Rules expanded on January 5 limit them to essential trips, such as to get food or to go to work.”

Metro Manila, also known as the Philippines’ national capital region, is home to nearly 13.5 million residents and contains 17 different cities, including Manila. The Metro Manila Council (MMC) passed a resolution on January 3 “urging the passage of local ordinances prohibiting unvaccinated individuals from going outside their residences, except for essential trips,” the Philippine Inquirer reported on January 4.

The resolution asked mayors of Metro Manila cities and municipalities “to bar the unvaccinated from indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and other food establishments, and from leisure or social trips to malls, hotels, sports, and other similar facilities.”

Metro Manila residents who have not received a Chinese coronavirus vaccination “are also prohibited from domestic travel via public land, sea and air transportation, except to buy essential goods and services such as food and water, for work or medical and health reasons,” according to the newspaper.

Philippines Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez expressed support on January 4 for Metro Manila’s decision to “impose mobility limitations on the unvaccinated and grant privileges to the inoculated,” the Inquirer observed.

Vaccines against the Chinese coronavirus currently offered in the Philippines and worldwide are not “100 percent effective” in preventing transmission of the disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Some people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] will still get sick and have a vaccine breakthrough infection because no vaccine is 100% effective,” the CDC wrote in a notice published by its website on December 23, 2021.

Benhur Abalos, the chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), told reporters on Tuesday the new movement restrictions on the unvaccinated are similar to those imposed during Manila’s “enhanced community quarantine [ECQ],” which was the strictest form of coronavirus lockdown imposed by the Philippine federal government throughout 2020 and 2021. Abalos said Metro Manila’s unvaccinated will be barred from leaving their homes as long as the region remains “under alert level 3 or higher against COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus].”

Metro Manila’s pandemic task force placed the capital under alert level 3 on January 3, with the status expected to last through at least January 15.

“Restaurants, parks, churches, and beauty salons will open at lower capacities to limit mobility,” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman, Karlo Nograles, told reporters of Metro Manila’s level 3 restrictions on December 31.

“In-person classes and contact sports are suspended,” Nograles said at the time, adding, “localized lockdowns targeting specific buildings, streets, and neighborhoods will also be enforced.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on January 6 he had advised Metro Manila police and security officials to “arrest” unvaccinated residents if they are found outside of their homes for non-essential reasons during the strict lockdown period.

“Duterte in an televised address to the nation said he was asking community leaders to look for unvaccinated people and make sure they were confined to their homes,” Channel News Asia (CNA) reported.

“If he refuses, if he goes out his house and goes around the community, he can be restrained. If he refuses, the [police] captain is empowered now to arrest recalcitrant persons,” Duterte warned.

President Duterte infamously issued a “shoot-to-kill” order for people found violating strict stay-at-home orders during a months-long ECQ lockdown in Metro Manila in April 2020.

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