Duterte to visit China to thank Xi for vax donation

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte said he intends to visit China before the end of the year to personally thank Chinese President Xi Jinping for the initial 600,000 doses of “CoronaVac” Covid-19 vaccines they donated to the Philippines on Sunday.

Addressing Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian in a speech, Duterte said he wanted to thank Xi for making possible the delivery of the first Covid-19 vaccine doses to the Philippines which will be used to vaccinate healthcare workers and uniformed personnel.

"Mr. Ambassador, I’d like to just say that towards the --- maybe at the end of the year, when everything has settled down --- I intend to make a short visit to China to just shake hands with President Xi Jinping and to personally thank him for this donation. Thank you," he said in a speech during the arrival ceremony of the Sinovac-made vaccines at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

In a press conference, Duterte said he wanted to visit Xiamen, before Beijing, to see the school building that was built in honor of his late mother.

"Maybe I’ll go to Xiamen. There’s a school built to honor my mother. You know, my mother was one of the first educators of the Chinese school in Davao," he said.

Duterte described China’s Covid-19 vaccine donation as a “gesture of friendship and solidarity”, which to him is the hallmark of Philippine-China partnership.

He noted that the Philippines is the only country to have the privilege of having the Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered instead of having to pick up the supply from China.

“I would like to just add that China has donated several vaccines to several countries. But it is only the donation made to the Philippines that was carried by a Chinese government plane. Iyong iba kinukuha doon sa China. Dito, hinatid sa atin (Others would have to pick them up from China. Here, it is delivered to us),” he said.

Step forward

Duterte described the delivery of the first Covid-19 vaccine doses in the country as “another step forward” in the country’s fight against Covid-19.

He also expressed confidence that more batches of vaccines will be available until every Filipino will be given the chance to be vaccinated.

“The delivery of this first batch, I hope, will serve as a guarantee to everyone that we are taking a big step in our efforts to overcome this health crisis,” he said.

He reassured the public that the government remains committed to a timely vaccine roll out that will enable a shift to the least stringent modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

He directed all concerned agencies to institutionalize the whole-of-government approach in the vaccine roll out.

“I cannot stress [this] enough: we cannot afford to waste time or resources in the distribution of these vaccines because we are dealing with precious lives,” he said.

Global public good

Borrowing from his own speech before the United Nations General Assembly last September, Duterte renewed his call for Covid-19 vaccines to be treated as “a global public good.”

“I said it before and I will say it again: Covid-19 vaccines should be treated as a global public good and made available to all, rich and poor alike. No nation – no people - should be left to suffer the ravages of this pandemic for whatever reason,” he said.

Duterte said global recovery hinges on equal and easy access by everyone to life-saving vaccines.

“Because, at the end of the day, as repeatedly said, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Countries must therefore continue working together and do everything humanly possible to ensure a good outcome for every person,” he said.

Set fears aside

Duterte also encouraged the public to “set fears aside” and trust in the national government’s Covid-19 vaccination drive that guarantees a safe and effective solution to Covid-19.

“To my fellow Filipinos, please set your fears aside These vaccines are backed by science and deliberated on by our experts. Filipino experts. I encourage you to get vaccinated at the soonest possible time. And be our partner in preventing the further spread of this disease,” he said.

He also urged among those first in line to get vaccinated to continue practicing health and safety protocols as more vaccine doses are set to arrive in the following months.

“Remember to wear masks, wash hands and observe social distancing. Your cooperation here is key and will undoubtedly save numerous lives along the way,” he added.

Duterte, meanwhile, expressed confidence that the country will be able to claim victory over the pandemic with the entire nation’s support.

“Let us all demonstrate unity in our shared task of nation building and healthier society for every Filipino,” he said.

Always by your side

Duterte also thanked all frontline healthcare workers for their “selfless contribution” in the fight against Covid-19.

“To our dear medical front-liners, allow me to take this opportunity to thank you for your valuable and selfless contribution in the fight against Covid-19,” he said.

He said he recognized their daily sacrifices even at the cost of being away from their loved ones and risking lives just to take care of the sick.

“I assure you that the government will always be by your side, ready to help in any way we can,” he said.

The Chinese military plane carrying the donated vials landed at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City past 4 p.m. and was welcomed by several Cabinet members.

Duterte personally witnessed the historic event and inspected the crates containing the vials during the donation's ceremonial turnover to the Philippine government.

Sinovac's CoronaVac is the third Covid-19 vaccine brand, aside from Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca, granted an emergency use authorization by the country's Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

From Villamor Airbase, the vaccine would be transported via six 40-footer trucks to a number of cold storage facilities, including at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and the Metropac Logistics in Marikina City. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

Related posts