Duterte dares critics: ‘Join the lady,’ shop for vaccines

Published March 17, 2021, 11:10 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Did President Duterte throw another shade at Vice President Leni Robredo?

The President started his public address Monday, March 15, discussing the country’s vaccine supply when he briefly took a swipe at critics of the administration.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Duterte challenged those critical of the government’s vaccine procurement efforts to “join the lady” and try to shop for such supply if they could. He even offered to “honor” the vaccine acquisition of the critics should they succeed in negotiations for the vaccine supply.

“Gusto ko malaman ng mga tao (I want people to know) that we would be discussing the time and the actual inoculation of the rest of the Filipinos. Mabuti pa’t sabihin ko na sa inyo ngayon, ngayon ngayong araw na ‘to (It’s better to tell you now), including those who are really hurrying you up and criticizing government,” he said during a televised address.

“Eh sinabi ko na nga eh (As I said) if they want to join the lady, they can negotiate and I will honor it if they can have a vaccine sufficient for our need,’ he added.

The President admitted that the country’s existing supplies were limited to the donations given by China and the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility so far.

Duterte however assured the nation that vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. has been busy procuring additional supplies for the government’s immunization program. He noted that Galvez recently returned from his trip to India where he finalized a vaccine supply deal for the country.

“Mga kababayan ko, hanggang ngayon wala pa tayong sobra. Ibig sabihin walang dumating except those donated. Iyong ginawang donasyon lang ng China pati sa WHO. Walang bayad ‘yon (My countrymen, we don’t have surplus up to now. It means nothing has arrived except for those donated. The donations made by China and the WHO. There’s no payment there),” the President said.

In a televised address on March 1, the President offered to give money to Robredo so she could shop for coronavirus vaccines abroad.

Irked by Robredo’s criticisms on the state’s vaccine purchase efforts, the President told the vice president that the world’s vaccine supply was still thin. Given the limited global supply, he said the vaccine procurement was difficult not only for the Philippines but other countries as well.

“Ngayon, kung gusto mo talaga para mahinto ka, kunin mo ‘yong basket mo, mamalengke ka doon sa labas ng bakuna. Bigyan kita pera para kung may mabili ka, bilhin mo na kaagad at umuwi ka dito sa Pilipinas, ibigay mo doon sa mga doktor (Now if you want to do something, get your basket, shop for vaccines abroad. I’ll give you money so if you can find vaccines, buy them, return to the Philippines and give them to the doctors),” he told Robredo.

The President earlier slammed Robredo for allegedly trying to be “relevant” by making it appear he had no compassion for health workers. He told Robredo that he would never abandon the country’s medical frontliners, currently given priority in the vaccination line.

“Sometimes you make an idiotic stance. Iyong mga ganoong (The comments like) ‘they deserve the best.’ Anak ka ng… Bakit ako? (Why do think I would?) I would give them the worst? Mamatay ka na. Hindi ko iwanan ‘yong mga frontliners (Drop dead. I won’t abandon the frontliners) and you do not need to really be redundant about it,” he told the vice president.

When Robredo commented Duterte was “pikon” (short-tempered) when faced with criticisms, the President denied such allegation. He said he was not “pikon” but angry with Robredo for allegedly creating public doubt about the Chinese-developed vaccines following her criticisms on the vaccination program.