President Duterte said that he is open to giving vaccines to New People’s Army (NPA) members so that they won’t catch the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
However, Duterte–speaking in his weekly “Talk to the People” public briefing–said that the communist rebels would only get access to the life-saving jabs “if there is a surplus” of it.
“Ang order ko sa inyo na hayaan ninyo ‘yung gobyerno mag-implement ng itong order ko ngayon for them — for the itong mga tao diyan sa bukid-bukid na nasa baba ngayon kasi walang bahay, you allow them to go around at bakunahan ang mga tao (My order is for you to let government implement the order that I have for them now — you allow the homeless people in the lowlands to get vaccinated),” he said in his message to the NPA during his pre-recorded briefing, a portion of which aired on Tuesday morning, Jan. 25.
Duterte was referring to the provinces that were ravaged by typhoon “Odette” last month. He said many residents from these province’s lost their homes due to the disaster.
The NPA is the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which are enemies of the states. It was under the Duterte administration that the CPP was branded as “terrorists”.
The Philippine government is racing to inoculate as many people as it can from COVID-19 amid the threat of the highly-contagious Omicron variant of the virus. The vaccines are free of charge.
“Ngayon, pagka may sobra, kung may sobra lang, hindi kayo puwedeng unahin kay kalaban kayo sa gobyerno. Tingnan lang ninyo at kung may sobra, ‘di ano. Pero tawagan ninyo na muna ako na kung may sobra, ibigay ninyo sa NPA para hindi ma-COVID-19 (Now, if there is a surplus, only if there’s a surplus, you still can’t be prioritized because your the enemy of the state. Just check of there’s a surplus. But call me first if there’s a surplus, give it to the NPA so that they won’t get COVID-19),” Duterte said.
His remarks notwithstanding, Duterte reckoned that COVID-19 isn’t as prevalent in the farmlands as other diseases.
“Wala namang ano diyan sa bukid na COVID-19. Ang inyo diyan sa bukid is pneumonia, tuberculosis, iyan ang ano. Tapos ang karamihan talaga, both the soldiers of the Republic of the Philippines at ang NPA pare-pareho ang sakit, it’s the kidney. Basta dito banda, liver, kidney, o — ‘yan diyan (COVID-19 isn’t common in the farmlands. What’s prevalent are pneumonia, tuberculosis, those ones. And both the soldiers of the Republic of the Philippines and from NPA get the same illnesses, it’s the kidney. The liver, the kidney, in those places),” he said.
It should be noted as per the government’s pandemic task force, the current surge in COVID-19 cases has significantly affected local government units (LGUs) in the countryside.
The Philippine government first rolled out its mass vaccination program against COVID-19 on March 1, 2021. Since the fourth quarter of last year, authorities including Duterte himself have highlighted the country’s abundant supply of the vaccines.
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