The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) declared on Friday it is up to the task leading the distribution of a potential vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) once it becomes available likely “before December.”
President Duterte tapped the military as an “implementing arm” in the distribution of the potential vaccine maintaining local government officials may “politicize” the process.
Outgoing AFP Chief, General Felimon Santos Jr., has already instructed his men to set up a distribution plan.
“Bagaman at kababanggit pa lang ng Pangulo ang tungkol sa bagay na ‘yan, kaagad pong inatasan ng ating AFP Chief of Staff General Felimon Santos Jr. ang kanyang mga staff upang pagpaplanuhan at paghandaan ‘yan before December kung kailan pinaniniwalaan na magkakaroon na ng vaccine para sa COVID-19 (While the President recently discussed the matter, AFP Chief of Staff General Felimon Santos Jr. immediately ordered his staff to plan and prepare for it before December, when the vaccine for COVID-19 will likely be made available),” said Major General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson.
“Ikinatutuwa po natin ang malaking tiwala sa AFP ng ating Commander-in-Chief (We are glad with the immense trust of our Commander-in-Chief with the AFP),” Arevalo added.
Duterte is pinning his hopes China will make a vaccine available before the year ends.
He also thanked the Chinese government for promising to prioritize the Philippines once a vaccine becomes available.
The President has relied heavily on the military and the police in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic since it began early this year.
He appointed ex-generals to lead government task forces which are responsible for the COVID-19 response, and asked the military to use its assets to haul medical supplies, equipment and personnel to and from abroad.
Military personnel were also told to secure quarantine checkpoints when community quarantine was enforced in March to control the spread of the virus, and help social workers in distributing cash aid to communities.
The AFP also sent medical personnel in isolation facilities to augment the Department of Health’s workforce, and in areas with high COVID-19 cases such as in Cebu City to control the surge of infections.