There would be no strings attached to the much-awaited COVID-19 vaccines that would be donated by the Chinese government to the Philippines, a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official said Friday.
“Allow me to convey our assurances that our transactions on the vaccine supply with our global partners, in the bilateral and multilateral levels, do not have strings attached nor is it bearing any quid pro quo for any sovereign territorial consideration,” DFA Assistant Secretary Eric Gerardo Tamayo said in response to Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ question if there are strings attached to the donation at the continuation of the Senate Committee of Whole hearing on the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.
Tamayo said the vaccines that China would be donating to the Philippines, is an expression of “goodwill.”
“We can assure that in the particular case of the donation from China, at no time that China even hinted or tied the vaccine to any consideration,” the DFA official added.
“Vaccine diplomacy, is at best, an expression of good will in solidarity with the Philippines especially during this time of the pandemic,” he said.
Tamayo said that the COVAX facility, a platform that aims to ensure fast, fair, and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for people in all countries, is “some form of a donation mechanism” for all nations that are battling the pandemic.
“It maybe noted that the COVAX facility itself is some form of a donation mechanism to lower and middle income countries,” he said.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. had earlier urged senators to set aside their differences on the West Philippine Sea in favor of the global interest “to save humanity.”
“’Yung tinatawag nating differences on the West Philippine Sea should be set aside because this is a global pandemic,” Galvez said.
But Hontiveros rejected Galvez’s statement and urged chief implementers of the national task force for COVID-19 not to compromise the country’s stake on the West Philippine Sea in exchange for the vaccines that China would be donating.
“Just because we are buying Chinese vaccines or accepting their donation, we will be setting aside our rights and our territory in the West Philippine Sea,” Hontiveros said.
The senator said it is imperative that the Philippine government protects its strategic interests while pursuing a solution to the pandemic.