A lot of world leaders have taken their COVID-19 vaccines on camera to help show the public that it’s completely safe and painless. But the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, is refusing to take part in that effort—because he wants to take the shot in his butt.
According to the Manila Bulletin, the strongman’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, confirmed at a televised press conference that his boss fully intends to be injected in his ass cheek. “He said since he wants to be injected in the buttocks, it cannot be public,” Roque told reporters.
Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser to the country’s COVID-19 task force, lamented the president’s decision, writing on Twitter, “The big challenge is to convince the public to get vaccinated. It’s unfortunate Duterte has chosen his buttocks instead of the deltoid area like U.S. [President] Joe Biden... It would be very inspiring!” The doctor also warned: “The central region of the buttocks should be avoided for all injections.”
According to Rappler, Duterte’s desire for a butt injection marks a change of heart—he said back in August that his preference was to be injected with the Russian vaccine in full view of the public. The strongman president said at the time, “When the vaccine arrives, I will have myself injected in public. Experiment on me first, that’s fine with me.” He appears to have made no mention of the butt-cheek exemption at that point.
The country’s health secretary, Francisco Duque III, said last week that he and other pandemic officials had been trying to convince Duterte to stick by his word and do it in public. But that effort has failed because the president doesn’t want to be injected anywhere except his butt, which is private.
Vaccine reluctance is a big problem in the country—one opinion poll released last week showed that fewer than a third of Filipinos are willing to get inoculated against the coronavirus over safety fears. The Philippines has been hit hard by the pandemic, recording over half a million cases and over 10,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.