EXPECT President Rodrigo Durterte to be at the Villamor Air Base leading the pack of a welcoming committee on Sunday to personally receive the 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccines.
According to Duterte’s long-time aide, now Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, he would be joining the Malacañang chief executive and other top Cabinet members during the event culminating the much anticipated arrival of the China-made vaccines.
“Darating na February 28. I think 5:00 p.m. po ay tatanggapin ni Pangulong Duterte,” Go said in reference to the 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine donated by the Chinese government to the Philippines.
From the initial delivery, 100,000 doses have been allocated to the military.
“It will be a simple turnover. Matagal na natin itong inaantay. Ako, as a legislator, talagang kinukulit ko po. Naaawa na ako kina Vaccine Czar Secretary [Carlito] Galvez, Jr. at [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque. Halos araw-araw ko silang nire-remind,” he said.
Prior to Go’s announcement, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque hinted that the presence of the President in the arrival of the vaccines is a manifestation of the country’s gratitude towards China for donating the vaccines.
“Gusto po nating tumanaw ng utang na loob, kaya nais sumalubong ni Presidente. Magkakaroon po ng ceremony kapag dumating na ang donated vaccines ng People’s Republic of China,” Roque told reporters in a press briefing.
Although a vaccine indemnification law mandating the national government to shoulder the compensation for those who will experience adverse effects from taking a COVID-19 vaccine has already been passed by both chambers of Congress, in compliance to the vaccine manufacturers’ requirement, the President has yet to sign indemnity fund bill into a law as of press time.
The government has been badly criticized for lagging behind Asian counterparts, which have started its COVID-19 mass vaccination programs as early as December last year.