MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he intended to visit China and thank his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for donating to the Philippines its first official supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
Duterte welcomed in person the arrival of 600,000 vaccine doses from Beijing-based pharmaceutical group Sinovac Biotech, which he said was Beijing's only donation "that was carried by a Chinese government plane"
"Towards, 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," Duterte said in a speech.
"I would like to thank and to travel China even one day just to tell President Xi Jinping thank you and I fly home. I want it to do personal because China has been good... I suppose that a debt of gratitude should be paid by a personal visit," the President added in a press briefing.
He said he also wanted to visit Xiamen City, China where he said a school was named after his mother Soledad Duterte, one of the first teachers in a Chinese school in their home city Davao.
The military will get 100,000 doses from China's vaccine donation and the rest will go to select health workers of the country, which has recorded over 576,000 COVID-19 cases and has lagged behind its Southeast Asian neighbors in securing vaccines.
The President urged the public to "get vaccinated at the soonest possible time, and be our partner in preventing the further spread of this disease."
The Philippine General Hospital and other medical facilities are set to hold the country's first vaccinations on Monday, said Carlito Galvez Jr, chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.