MANILA – Communist rebels can get free vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) but it does not mean that the fighting is over, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said Sunday.
In a late night public address, Duterte said he would be willing to give members of the New People’s Army (NPA) free vaccine shots for as long as they show up without arms.
“Now itong mga (these) NPA, if they really want to get their shots free, they can always line up. And I will ask now the military and the police to be forgiving. ‘Pag nakapila sila doon — wala namang armas (If they line up without arms) just to get the shots, give it to them,” he said.
Duterte earlier said the police and the military would be among the first to receive vaccines, noting that he needs “a strong backbone.”
He guaranteed that underprivileged Filipinos would also be prioritized.
The Covid-19 vaccines would be distributed for free, except for rich people and drug personalities, he added.
The military would be tapped to lead the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
He made the pronouncement as he admitted that he could not trust local officials in distributing the vaccines.
Meanwhile, he urged police personnel to clean up their precincts as he wanted their stations to serve as Covid-19 vaccination centers.
“Kayong mga pulis, makinig kayo sa akin ha, linisan ninyo ‘yang presinto ninyo and make it ready for the day (Hey you police, listen to me, clean your precincts and make it ready for the day). I pray that it would come. Iyon na lang mga police station mas malapit at saka marami (Police stations are nearer and many),” he said.
Wait till December
Despite depleted funds, Duterte said he would find a way to source funds for the government’s Covid-19 response.
He also appealed to the public to wait until the end of the year for a vaccine to be made available.
“Mga kababayan ko, tiis nalang ng konti. By December nandiyan na (My countrymen, hang in there a little longer. By December, it will be there),” he said.
He said he has always been praying to God for a vaccine.
Once a vaccine is available, Duterte said he expects immunization to be finished in a week’s time.
“We can finish if we have the vaccines and if it is delivered expeditiously. I think that in about one week’s time, tapos na (it’s over),” he said.
He also expressed confidence that China would be among the first to develop a potential vaccine against Covid-19.
“I believe in China because they are very conscientious and hindi reklamador (complainers),” he said. (PNA)