Duterte thanks US generosity for Moderna donation; poor Filipinos to be given vaccine priority

Published August 3, 2021, 6:06 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The Philippines’ vaccine arsenal got another shot in the arm with the arrival of 3 million doses of Moderna vaccines donated by the United States Tuesday.

President Duterte holds a vial of a Moderna coronavirus vaccine during the arrival of more than 3 million jabs donated by the United States on August 3, 2021. (RTVM Screenshot) 

President Duterte thanked the United States for its generosity and promised to prioritize poor Filipinos in the vaccine distribution.

Duterte, accompanied by some Cabinet members, attended the arrival ceremony of the US-donated vaccines at the Manila airport.

“It is with joy and high hopes that we welcome today the arrival of more than three million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines from the United States of America. I wish to thank the United States for the generosity in sharing various COVID-19 assistance to the Philippines,” the President said.

“I know that it is the sentiment of America that the vaccines that should be given to the Philippines should go first to those who have least in life, ‘yung mga mahirap, the poor ones who cannot afford. And for those, well, who do not want to be vaccinated, we will try to entice them with the vaccines given by the United States,” he said.

Duterte admitted that ensuring the safe delivery of the vaccines to the people would be a “tedious and difficult process.” But he pledged the government is committed to observe the US guidance to give the vaccines to the country’s poor.

“It could be the squatters who must be in the provinces, but these vaccines which America donated carries with it the sentiment that it be given to the least of those Filipinos who cannot afford. Rest assured everybody will follow that directive,” he said.

The latest US vaccine donation was coursed through the World Health Organization-COVAX facility. America earlier donated more than 3 million Johnson & Johnson jabs to the Philippines.

President Duterte greets US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law with a fist bump during the arrival of 3 million Moderna vaccines donated by the United States government on August 3, 2021. (Photo: PCOO)

READ: US completes 3.2M vaccine donations to PH

The President also expressed his deepest gratitude to the COVAX Facility for the continuous donation of these vaccines. “We look forward to the delivery of even more life-saving vaccines in the country very soon,” he said.

Apart from the vaccines, the President thanked the US for its other COVID-related assistance to the Philippines, citing the “strong and deep” ties between the two allies.

He said the country was also grateful for the donations of the key medical supplies and equipment and the provisions of institutions support of the government’s pandemic response.

“All of these have helped, and definitely will continue to help, the Filipino people. Indeed, the cooperation between the Philippines and the US in overcoming the pandemic highlights the strong and deep friendship between our two countries,” he said.

Among those present in the vaccine arrival ceremony were Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., and US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law.

The President earlier admitted that he decided to keep the country’s visiting forces agreement with the US following its donation of vaccines to Filipinos. He said it was a “concession” out of gratitude for the donated vaccines.

READ: ‘Give and take’: VFA retention a ‘concession’ after US vaccine donation, Duterte admits

Law said the arrival of the US-donated Moderna jabs was “part of continuing U.S. efforts to support our Filipino #FriendsPartnersAllies.”

“We thank Pres. Duterte for joining us to welcome the arrival of these life-saving vaccines,” the US official tweeted.