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MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that Muslims in Mindanao are refusing vaccination against COVID-19.
In a pre-recorded address on Monday, January 24, Duterte said he saw unvaccinated Tausugs who were stuck at the port because of the Department of Transportation’s “no vaccination, no ride” policy.
“I think the Muslim community here in the Philippines, it looks like many are of the belief that it (vaccination) is not allowed by their, I don’t know, religion. Or I may be mistaken. It may be that or something else in their culture,” said Duterte in a mix of English and Filipino.
The President said that he has talked to Governor Sakur Tan, who told him that vaccine hesitancy has changed among Tausugs.
“Just an information to everybody, in Mindanao, the Muslim community are resisting the bakuna.… Mabuti na lang nakausap ko si… Governor Sakur, and well maybe hindi lahat but the report is some of the Tausugs are not resisting anymore,” he said.
(Just an information to everybody, in Mindanao, the Muslim community are resisting the vaccine. Good thing I was able to talk to Governor Sakur. And maybe not all, but the report is some of the Tausugs are no longer resisting.)
While he noted that some simply do not want to get vaccinated, the President mentioned that he is “not confident” about forcing vaccines into them.
“But I am not confident about their taking of, the allowing of the vaccines into their bodies because I think it’s something more of a religious belief,” he said.
“I said I may be wrong on two counts, but that’s what I think. In Mindanao, they don’t want. Many among them simply do not want it. Period,” he added.
Data as of Sunday, January 23, showed that vaccination at Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) lagged at 25.22% for the fully vaccinated and at 26.59% for the partially vaccinated.
The rest of the regions have a full vaccination rate of more than 50%.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. also said that vaccine hesitation “has been their problem” in BARMM.
On Tuesday, January 25, Acting Presidential Spokesman and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles was asked whether the government would impose mobility restrictions on Muslim communities and indigenous peoples in Mindanao.
Nograles said that the President’s pronouncements seem to highlight the work local chief executives have to do to persuade residents to get vaccinated.
“Malaki po ang ambag at ang influence ng ating mga local leaders. So whether it’s Luzon, Visayas, or even Mindanao, or even in the BARMM area, it’s really ‘yung mga local leaders natin, government leaders natin, who have a big role to play sa pagkumbinsi sa kanilang mga constituents, sa ating mga kababayan na magpabakuna,” Nograles said.
(Our local leaders have a big role and influence [over their constituents]. So whether it’s Luzon, the Visayas, or even Mindanao, or even in the BARMM area, it’s really our local leaders, our government leaders, who have a big role to play in persuading their constituents, our countrymen, to get vaccinated.)
During the start of the vaccination rollout in the Philippines, Filipino Muslim leaders supported the effort, saying that “any substance that will effectively and safely protect people is considered halal.”
In March 2021, the BARMM Darul-Ifta, the Islamic advisory council, issued guidelines deeming COVID-19 vaccines as halal, according to a report by MindaNews. – Rappler.com