President Duterte told the public that the COVID-19 vaccine will soon be making its way to the Philippines after Russia committed to constructing a pharmaceutical plant in the country to produce them.
In his public address on Wednesday evening, President Duterte said that if the Philippines will follow all rules, the earliest it can arrive in the country is in April, 2021. However, he said outgoing Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev told him that Russia will be investing in the Philippines.
“I just had a talk with the Ambassador of Russia, the outgoing, and we had a serious one-on-one talk. He said that Russia is coming in, meron lang sigurong tinatapos (I think they’re just ironing some things out). They’d want to establish a… gagawa sila ng planta (they want to construct a plant here)–pharmaceutical,” he said.
“Ang vaccine papasok din sila. (They will also bring their vaccine in),” he added, referring to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine which they offered to the Philippines.
Malacañang announced in August that an expert panel from the Philippines will first have to review the results of the first and second phases of the clinical trials of the Russian vaccine.
The Russia-funded third phase of the clinical trials of Sputnik V by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology will be held simultaneously in the Philippines and Russia from October, 2020 to March 2021. The vaccine is expected to be registered with the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by April, 2021.
Meanwhile, Duterte said that he has secured the funding to acquire COVID-19 vaccines. He said that he is in search of more money so all Filipinos can be vaccinated.
“This I can assure [you]: Nakahanap na ako ng pera (I found the money). I have the money already for the vaccine but hahanap pa ako ng maraming pera (I’m still looking for more),” he said.
“There are now 130 million Filipinos and to me, ideally, all should have the vaccine without exception,” he added.
President Duterte said that beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and those who received the government’s cash aid will be the first to receive the vaccine.
“Mauna ang mga mahihirap na walang pera, hindi makabayad. Ang listahan, yung doon sa Pantawid (The poor people who cannot pay for it will go first. The list we will use is the same with the 4Ps),” he said.
Joining the said group of people are the country’s security forces as they are vital in securing the country.
“I want my soldiers pati yung (and) security forces ng bayan mauna rin kasabay ng first batch (of the country to go first, together with the first batch),” the President said.
“Kailangan ko ng mga sundalo at pulis na ready, healthy, at walang COVID-19 (I need soldiers, and police officers who ready, healthy, and COVID-19-free). They are really vital to the security of the State, for which reason they should be the first also,” he added.
According to Duterte, civilians like him can go last. However, he said he can always go first because he is confident about the vaccine produced by either China or Russia.
“Naghihintay akong tawagin ako ng China or Russia (I’m just waiting for either China or Russia to call me). I’d be glad to open up my sleeves and… sige (proceed). Kasi kumpyansa nga ako (It’s because I am confident),” he said.
“So [for] those of you who are asking me kung safe ba itong China (If China’s vaccine is safe), well, I can say that China is a modern country and it has all the wherewithal to make its country… fully protected,” he added.
To date, the Philippines has recorded a total of 346,536 COVID-19 cases, 6,449 of whom died while 293,860 recovered.