Malacanang clarified on Sunday that President Rodrigo Duterte was not asking the US to provide the Philippines with free vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) when he threatened to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Duterte said on Saturday he wanted to get 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from the US to continue the VFA.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a radio interview on Sunday that the Philippines was not asking for free vaccines from the US, and that the government is ready to pay for whatever Covid-19 vaccines it needs.
“Hindi po, babayaran po natin. Ang problema lang po, yung supply. Ang sinasabi ng Presidente, at least bigyan niyo kami ng supply. Hindi naman tayo nanlilimos, meron naman tayong perang pambayad dyan at babayaran natin (No. We will pay for the vaccines. The only problem is supply. What the President said was for the US to provide us supplies. We are not begging as we have the funds to pay),” he said.
The government has allocated P72.3 billion for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines.
It was in February 2020 that the government sent a notice to the US government for the termination of the VFA that was supposed to take effect last June. The abrogation of the agreement, however, was moved to December this year.“Kung kinakailangan nilang ma-renew yung kanilang VFA para sa kanilang pangnasyonal na interes, importante sa Pilipinas na mabigay naman sila ng vaccine dahil yan ang kinakailangan natin para sa nasyonal na interest (If the US wants the VFA renewed for their national interest, it is important for the Philippines to get vaccines because vaccines are what we need for our national interest),” Roque added. SOVEREIGNPH