MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte said there is no “magic bullet” to solve the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) health crisis as he sought for more patience until a vaccine is made available.
In a taped public address aired Tuesday, Duterte assured the public that the government continues to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic by recalibrating its health system strategies.
He admitted that the government is “not perfect” in addressing the challenges that arise from the pandemic but noted that it was also doing its best.
“There is no magic wand or if you want a stronger statement a — the magic bullet, a silver bullet, that will solve our problems. May sinubukan tayo (We are trying) since we are not perfect,” he said.
Duterte, meanwhile, expressed hope that either China or Russia would provide the Philippines with their respective vaccines once clinical trials are completed.
“Malapit na ‘yan. Russia, China, I dunno if anybody, alam ko lang yung dalawa, nag-announce na meron sila at (It’s nearly complete. Russia and China have both announced that they have it and they’re) ready and they’re willing to help. Both countries lumabas ng statement na tulungan nila ako (released a statement that they will help me),” he said.
The President said he is willing to borrow money to pay for the vaccines if they will not be given for free.
“Kung may bayad, dahil marami masyado, utangin natin. Credit nalang or hanap tayo ng loan (If we have to pay for it because it’s too much, let’s borrow money. Credit or let’s get a loan) but if it’s not, I’m sure that they are willing to give us that privilege of borrowing from them,” he said.
Duterte also reassured that the 20 million poorest of the poor will receive a free Covid-19 vaccine despite the cost.
“Ang mauna sa bakuna, ulitin ko, ay yung mga tao na nasa sa listahan ng gobyerno na tumatanggap ng Pantawid. Ito yung mga mahirap. Ang sunod yun, yung mga tao na hindi nakalista at mahirap (The first to receive vaccine will be those in the Pantawid list. Next will be those not in the list but are also poor),” he said.
Law enforcement officers, he said, will also be among the first to be inoculated with the vaccine.
“Pero mauna sa lahat ang mga military pati pulis kasi kung walang pulis pati military, babagsak tayo. Sino guguwardiya sa’tin (But the military and police will be first because without them, we will fall. Who will guard us)?” he said.
As for government officials and workers, Duterte said he is still willing to be the first person injected with the vaccine but doesn’t mind being the last one either.
“Yung mga taga gobyerno, kung gusto ninyo ako ang mauna para magkaroon kayo ng or I could be the last Filipino to get, unahin kayong lahat, pahuli kami kumpiyansa (For government workers, if you want I can be the first one to be injected to erase all doubts or I could be the last Filipino to get, you’ll go first, we’ll be the last),” he said.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said the government can allocate PHP20 billion to buy the vaccine with the help of the Philippine International Trading Corp., Land Bank of the Philippines, and the Development Bank of the Philippines.
“We are scheduled to buy for 20 million people at two doses so that’s 40 million no. Forty million ang bibilhin natin (We will purchase 40 million vaccine doses),” Roque said.
Last August 17, Duterte said he will seek a discount from China and Russia on the Covid-19 vaccines that each of the two countries have developed and promise to supply the Philippines with.
He said the government would borrow money or sell public properties to purchase a Covid-19 vaccine once it is developed.
Besides China and Russia, the Philippine government is also in talks with several Covid-19 vaccine developers from the United States and the United Kingdom for possible purchases. (PNA)