Duterte gets candid about mortality: No guarantee I won't be a COVID victim

Published May 6, 2021, 10:19 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

As the pandemic continued to devastate lives across the world, President Duterte is opening up about the prospect of death from coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo/Malacañang)

Addressing the nation Wednesday night, the President talked about his concern about getting infected with the virus and dying from it. While he follows COVID-19 preventive protocols, he seemed worried about the possibility of virus infection due to his old age.

“Ako, tinatanggal ko kasi hindi pa, hindi — para akong hindi maintindihan. But itong kuwarto na ito ini-spray ito lahat (I just removed my mask since I am not understood when I talk but this entire room is sprayed with disinfectant) so… pero (but) there is no way — guarantee that I will not — I will not be a victim of COVID,” Duterte said in a televised address Wednesday, May 5.

Before ending his speech, the 76-year-old leader also got candid about the possibility of death from the coronavirus. A lot of his friends have passed away, he said.

“At lahat ‘yang mga karamihan, mga kaibigan ko (Many of my friends), a lot of my people, at no other time in my life that I have to contend with the fact that a lot of my friends which ‘yong ka-edad ko, namamatay na (my friends of the same age are dying),” he said.

“And I do not exclude myself from that reality eh matanda na rin ako eh (I am already old),” he said.

Duterte, whose movement has been restricted within the Palace to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection, recently received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm. His vaccination was reportedly covered by the compassionate use permit given to the Presidential Security Group hospital by the Food and Drug Administration.

The President’s Sinopharm vaccination however drew criticisms from various sectors since the Chinese drugmaker has yet to secure emergency use approval from the country’s drug regulators.

Recognizing such criticisms, Duterte has apologized for getting Sinopharm jab but asserted it was legal. He also defended his vaccination, saying “this is my life.”

Nonetheless, Duterte accepted responsibility and asked China to withdraw the 1,000 Sinopharm doses donated to the country. If Sinopharm vaccines are pulled out, it is unclear which vaccine brand will the President for his second dose.

Last year, several members of the President’s security team took Sinopharm vaccines without government authorization, saying it was meant to protect the personnel and consequently protect the President from the illness. The President also defended his guards at the time, saying it was a matter of “self-preservation.” He also barred them from appearing before a congressional inquiry into their controversial vaccination.