MANILA - Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Monday said he hopes his personal meeting with United States President Joe Biden about a year ago would help speed up the delivery of Moderna vaccines to the Philippines.
The boxer-turned-senator, who met then-Vice President Joe Biden before a 2011 fight in Las Vegas, sent a letter to the White House last month to urge the American government to prioritize the Philippines in the delivery of US-made vaccines.
"Nagulat ako dahil medyo nababagalan ako sa pagdeliver ng vaccine dito sa atin. 'Yung ibang bansa, massive na ang vaccination nila," Pacquiao told reporters in an online press conference.
(I was surprised because the delivery of vaccines to the Philippines is slow. Other countries already have massive vaccination programs.)
"Sa tingin ko naman kilala niya (Biden) din ako so makakatulong yung sulat natin," he said, referring to the correspondence he sent to the While House on April 10.
(I think he knows me so our letter will help.)
"Sinusubukan natin na magkaroon tayo ng direct line with US President Biden. 'Yun ang winowork out natin ngayon," he said.
(We are trying to establish a direct line with US President Biden. That's what we're working out now.)
Moderna is planning to deliver about 200,000 doses to the Philippines by mid-June, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez earlier said.
Pacquaio said he hopes his letter would help accelerate the deliveries within this month.
"Within this month sana ang request ko. By May kung kaya ng Amerika," he said.
(I requested if they could deliver it by this month. By May if America can do it.)
The White House has yet to respond to the request, the senator said.
Pacquiao belied observations that his letter to the White House and attempts to have a direct line with the president of the world's largest economy is part of his posturing for the 2022 national elections.
"Hindi naman sa inuunahan ko ang ating Pangulo. Ginagawa lang natin kung ano ang puwede nating magawa," said the senator, who is reportedly gunning to be president next year.
"Baka makatulong. Hindi naman ito para sa akin o sa aking pamilya," he said.
(It might help. This is neither for me nor for my family.)
The Philippines started its COVID-19 inoculation program in March with Sinovac and AstraZeneca jabs.
Some 15,000 Sputnik V vaccines from Russia arrived over the weekend, with 485,000 more doses expected in the coming months.
The Palace earlier said the Philippines is looking to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos before the end of the year.