MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte wants to witness the arrival of the 600,000 doses of China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccines donated by the Chinese government to the Philippines, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark with the expected arrival of the donated 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine in a week’s time.
“The President has said that he wants to be there when the initial shipment of Sinovac is delivered to the Philippines,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
Roque said the President has expressed a desire to witness the arrival of the donated Sinovac vaccines to show his gratitude to China, which he has described as the country’s BFF or best friend forever.
“Sa ating panahon ng pangangailangan, e talaga naman ang kaibigan nating Tsina ang unang nagpadala ng unang bakuna sa’tin. So hindi mo matatanggal sa Pilipino na tumanaw ng utang na loob (During our time of need, our friend China was the first to send us a vaccine. So we as Filipinos cannot avoid recognizing debt of gratitude),” he said.
He noted that a small ceremony might also be held during the arrival of the donated Sinovac vaccines.
“Barring any glitches, nais pong sumalubong nga ni Presidente at magkakaroon siguro ng konting seremonya dahil ito po ay donated ng (the President wants to welcome them and there might be a small ceremony because these are donated by the People’s Republic of China),” he added.
No effect on bilateral ties
Roque said showing debt of gratitude to China would not have any effect on issues affecting the Philippine-China bilateral relations such as the ongoing sea dispute.
“Wala naman pong epekto ‘yan sa ibang mga issue na meron tayo sa ating bilateral relations sa Tsina. Nagpapasalamat lang po ang Presidente dahil sa panahon ng pagsubok, Tsina nanaman ang nag-deliver (That won’t have any issue on other issues in our bilateral relations with China. The President just wants to show gratitude because, in times of need, China delivered again),” he said.
He also assured that Duterte and his administration will continue to assert their maritime rights in the South China Sea.
“Ipaglalaban natin ang dapat ipaglaban, pero hinding-hindi tayo magiging ingrato (We will continue to fight for what needs to be fought for, but we will never be ingrates),” he said.
Sinovac Biotech general manager Helen Yang said the donated vaccine doses will be shipped as soon as the company finalizes their preparations with the Bureau of Customs of the Philippines.
“We are working very hard with our Philippine counterpart to prepare for the delivery. The product has already been prepared so we just need to finalize the procedure with the Customs and then we can fix the date of the flight,” she said.
Sinovac vaccines were given emergency use approval (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines (FDA) on Monday.
However, the use of Sinovac vaccines for healthcare workers and senior citizens is not recommended due to its low efficacy rate for these groups of people.
The interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) is expected to discuss changes on the priority list after the FDA discouraged the use of Sinovac vaccines for healthcare workers and the elderly.
Roque said he expects the priority list to place uniformed personnel and economic front-liners first and second in line in the government’s vaccination program.
Currently, healthcare workers and senior citizens aged 60 and above are first and second in line, respectively on the priority list. (PNA)