'My fault': Duterte takes blame for the days when vaccines were hard to come by

President Duterte has owned up to the "sin" of having to compete with richer countries as far as the Philippines' supply of the life-saving coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines are concerned.

(Photos from Malacañang/ MANILA BULLETIN)

In his pre-recorded "Talk to the People" public briefing late Monday night, Oct. 11, Duterte couldn’t help but look back earlier this year when the Philippines was unsure of how it would get access to COVID-19 jabs due to the great global demand.

"Hirap na hirap tayo noon kasi wala naman tayong manufacturing company ng bakuna dito sa Pilipinas at nakipag-agawan tayo ng bakuna sa ibang bayan (We had a very difficult time then since we don't have a vaccine manufacturing company here in the Philippines and we had to fight with other countries for the vaccine)," he said.

"Yan ho ang nakabigay ng problema sa akin at kung mayroon man nagkasala dyan, aminin ko na lang. Kasi wala rin ako magawa, gusto ko bumili, wala naman ako mabilihan (That's what gave me problems and if somebody is at fault there, I admit to it. Because I couldn't do anything, I want to buy vaccines but there's nobody to buy from)," noted the President, who held his briefing in Davao City.

"At kung makipag-contest ako doon sa mga mayayaman sa bilihan ng bakuna, eh talagang huli ako. So yan dapat ang inyong maintindihan (And if I compete with the richer countries in buying vaccines, I'll end up last. So that's what you need to understand)," Duterte further said.

According to the Chief Executive, he deserves blame for the vaccine supply difficulties because he's the one in office.

"Ngayon, kung kasalanan man yan, eh walang iba dyan kung di ako na. Aaminin ko na yan. Ako yung nasa...nakaupo ngayon sa opisina ko (Now, if that is a sin, nobody else should be blamed but me. I will admit that. I'm the one...sitting in my office). So dapat somebody has to, well...maski na ginusto ko man eh wala akong mabili (even if I want to buy, I couldn't buy anything)," Duterte said.

Duterte, in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last month, castigated the wealthy nations of the world for allegedly hoarding the jabs to the detriment of poor countries.

The Philippines began its mass inoculation program against the deadly COVID-19 on March 1, 2021. For the first few weeks of the program, vaccines deliveries--which came from donations and government procurements--were few and far in between.

But the rate of the arrival of the jabs slowly improved over time, and now the Philippines has a total of 87,690,960 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in its inventory. Of these, 49,673,491 doses have been administered nationwide.

As of Sunday, 23,186,969 people in the country are considered fully vaccinated from the disease.

COVID-19 has claimed 39,660 lives in the Philippines as of Monday. The country has an estimated population of 110 million people.

If anything, Duterte reiterated that Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has assured him that the Philippines has enough money "to pay for the vaccines for all Filipinos".