MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday appealed to members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New Peoples' Army (NPA), to ensure that it will not intercept any coronavirus vaccine deliveries in the country.
Duterte made the appeal as the country prepares for the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccination program.
"We might be issue this appeal, not a warning. I am appealing to the Communist Party of the Philippines... the Communist Party of the Philippines must guarantee that the vaccines, in the course of they're being transported to areas where there are no city health officers or medical person, na huwag ninyong galawin ang medisina (do not touch the medicines)," he said during his weekly public briefing.
"Allow the vaccines to be transported freely and safely. I am asking you now to observe that rule because that is for the Filipino people," Duterte added, saying the CPP should follow the "rules of humanity."
He also told government officials not to hamper or obstruct the system of vaccine transportation and delivery.
"May I just address myself to every government worker...do not delay or do not hinder, do not obstruct the smooth flow na nakikita ninyo ngayon, from the time of the arrival, to the time of clearance," he said.
"Ang trabaho lang ninyo sa Customs is magtingin. You have no business na buksan-buksan 'yan. You are not allowed to do that. I am not allowing anybody, anybody there sa airport na magbukas bukas," Duterte warned airport and Bureau of Customs employees.
(Your job in the [Bureau of] Customs is to look. You have no business in opening the vaccine packages. You are not allowed to do that. I am not allowing anybody, anybody who works in the airport, to open any vaccine deliveries.)
The Philippines is currently waiting for the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility of the World Health Organization.
As of Monday, the Philippines has a total of 538,995 COVID-19 cases, with 11,231 deaths, 499,772 recoveries, and 27,992 active cases.