‘Unahan at agawan?’ AFP denies skipping COVID vaccine priority list

Published February 26, 2021, 5:59 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) refuted allegations that it is skipping the priority list in order to get first dibs on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines that will soon arrive in the country.

“Hindi po kami nakikipag-agawan, hindi po kami nakikipag-unahan sa pagbabakunang ito. Kung ano ang mailaan sa amin, tatanggapin namin sapagkat mahalaga sa amin na protektado ang aming mga kasamahan (We are not trying to cut the line in this vaccination program. Whatever is given to us, we will accept it because we want to protect our personnel),” said Major Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, at a “Laging Handa” press briefing Friday, Feb.26. 

Arevalo gave these remarks even as the public awaits the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from aboard this Sunday, Feb. 28.

He said the AFP personnel are likely to be inoculated with the vaccine made by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac.

“The vaccination of our soldiers will start as soon as the vaccines are aready available,” he said.

After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Sinovac with an emergency use authorization last Monday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana bared that around 100,000 doses of the vaccines were donated by China to the Department of National Defense through Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe.

Of the donated vaccines, Arevalo said 50,000 doses will be administered to the soldiers while the remaining doses will go to other priorities of the government.

Aside from this, Arevalo said the AFP is also awaiting confirmation if it be given a portion of the 500,000 vaccine donations earlier promised by the Chinese government. The commitment was made by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi through Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. back in January.

Meanwhile, the FDA had also reportedly approved the “compassionate use” of 10,000 doses of Chinese vaccine Sinopharm among the Presidential Security Group (PSG) personnel.

He again defended the PSG from the secret vaccination of some of its personnel using an unregistered COVID-19 vaccine last year, saying the soldiers “sacrificed their own health and safety to protect President Duterte from all forms of threat.”