MANILA – Malacañang on Monday rejected rumors that President Rodrigo Duterte has already received a coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine shot along with members of his close-in security detail.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque shrugged of such rumors as mere speculation, insisting that the President would have already announced if he received a vaccine in his weekly public address.
“Haka-haka lang po iyan. Ang totoo po niyan, eh siyempre depende kung ano sa tingin ng Presidente ang dapat niyang mensahe sa taumbayan sa kaniyang lingguhang ‘Talk to the People’ (These are just speculations. The truth is, it would depend on what the President would say in his weekly Talk to the People),” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
Roque earlier said it is still possible for Duterte to be the first person to be inoculated with a vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Duterte has repeatedly expressed willingness to be the first person to receive a vaccine shot, but Roque said the government would also have to take into consideration priority groups such as healthcare workers, uniformed personnel, the elderly, and those with comorbidities.
Roque also urged critics urging Duterte to be the first to receive vaccine shots to allow him to make his own decision regarding the matter.
He insisted anew that the Duterte administration is not favoring China-made vaccines over those produced in the United States and Europe.
The Philippines is targeting to secure 148 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from at least seven companies this year.
Meanwhile, Roque assured that health and law enforcement authorities are already investigating reports on a black market for illegal Covid-19 vaccines supposedly thriving in the country.
The Washington Post, on Monday, published a report about a black market in which vaccine doses are sold to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) workers at the standard USD30 price in China.
“Both FDA [Food and Drug Administration] and the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] have been investigating this issue. Abangan nalang po natin ang resulta ng kanilang imbestigasyon (Let’s just wait for the results of their investigation),” he said.
Last Dec. 26, Duterte announced that some members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly the Presidential Security Group (PSG), have been inoculated with a vaccine from China’s Sinopharm.
His close-in security personnel have been criticized for allegedly violating Republic Act (RA) 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009 by getting vaccinated against Covid-19.
The FDA earlier urged the PSG to apply for special permits for the use of the Covid-19 vaccines. (PNA)