MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's special envoy to China Ramon Tulfo said he has applied to be a Philippine distributor of Sinopharm vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by a Chinese government-owned pharmaceutical company.
In his column on Manila Times on Saturday, Tulfo also revealed that he was inoculated with Sinopharm's vaccine last year, along with other officials whose names he withheld.
"I now confess to the public: I had myself vaccinated — along with some government officials whose names I won’t mention here — with the Sinopharm vaccine last October. Some members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) were also injected with the same vaccine," Tulfo said.
Tulfo said he "risked his life" to have himself inoculated with the Sinopharm vaccine because he applied to be a local distributor.
"That’s another confession: I have applied to be one of the distributors of the Sinopharm vaccine in the country, that’s why I risked my life to have myself inoculated ahead of the public," he added.
He also said Duterte expressed interest in having himself inoculated but was advised against doing so to avoid controversy.
The country's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve for emergency use Sinopharm's vaccine.
As a Philippine government official, there is perceived a conflict of interest in Tulfo's application as a Philippine distributor of the Chinese vaccine.
Duterte said earlier he prefers to take shots from Sinopharm.
"He has said na (that) his preference is for Sinopharm," said Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque on Monday.
Some members of the President's security detail took unauthorized Sinopharm jabs last year.
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration issued a "compassionate use license" for the Presidential Security Group to take 10,000 Sinopharm jabs.