PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has volunteered to be the first Filipino to be inoculated with the vaccine developed by Russia against the highly contagious coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
This is to dispel any doubts on the efficacy of the vaccine, he said in a televised address Monday night, August 10, 2020.
“Ako, pagdating ng bakuna, in public, para walang satsat d’yan, in public, magpa-injection ako. Ako yung maunang ma-eksperimentuhan. Okay para sa akin,” he said.
“Sabihin ko rin kay President Putin na tiwalang - malaki ang tiwala ko sa pag-aa - your studies in combating Covid and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity,” he added.
If the vaccine works for him, Duterte said it should work for everybody.
He said he believes Russia will supply the vaccine for free as aid to the Philippines.
“Ito tingin ko kay President Putin tulong niya sa atin, libre. Kaya ngayon tinatanggap natin at kung ano ang supply mag-usap pa kami kung ilan ang supply at kailangan natin ma - may clinical, ano ‘yan, clinical studies na,” Duterte said.
Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said in a virtual press conference on August 7 that Russia was willing to supply vaccines to the Philippines.
Russia is expecting regulatory approval for the vaccine that it has developed against Covid-19.
The President reiterated that Russia is a “friend”. Duterte’s foreign policy has always leaned towards China and Russia instead of the US, a long-term Philippine ally.
“And then maligayang-maligaya ako kasi ang Russia kaibigan natin ito. Hindi tayo kalaban. Wala tayong away sa Russia. Kaibigan natin. Ang ano nila is magbigay sila ng bakuna. Wala naman silang sinasabi ‘bayaran mo’,” Duterte said.
He recalled how during his visit to Moscow in May 2017, Putin assured him of assistance.
“Pero sabi n’ya noon, noong nagbisita ako sa kanya, sabi n’ya, ‘if you have a medical question mark on anything about medicines or cures, feel free to call me and anyone you would like to be confined and treated here in Russia, we will.’ ‘Yan ang sabi n’ya. ‘And we will help you develop the - the medicines that your country needs’,” he said, quoting Putin.
Duterte directed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to appoint a point person who can focus on cooperation with Russia in this area.
The President earlier said Chinese officials have promised to give priority to the Philippines when a vaccine is approved.
Three Chinese firms were reported earlier to be leading the race to develop vaccines against Covid-19 as they were already in phase three of clinical trials.
Duterte, who expects the situation to return to normal with the development of a vaccine, reiterated his appeal for patience.
“So ang akin na lang, hintay na lang kayo. Kaunti na lang talaga. By December, sabi ko, in the fullness of God’s time, we will have a, hopefully, a Covid-free December and we can enjoy this Christmas season,” he said.
“Maghintay lang kayo, nand’yan na. Ang sinabi ko sa Inyo noon, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine. Ngayon ang vaccine nandito na. Ito nga, itong may sulat dito, magpapasalamat ako kay President Putin,” he said.
The President has stressed that he could not allow the economy to fully reopen nor face-to-face learning sessions to be conducted until a vaccine becomes available. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)