Duterte to ask US for help to procure more vaccines

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2021 03:19 AM

A health worker prepares a dose of the BioNtech Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination for seafarers at a stadium in Manila
A health worker prepares a dose of the BioNtech Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination for seafarers at a stadium in Manila on July 15, 2021. Ted Aljibe, AFP/file

MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte said he will ask the United States government for help in procuring more vaccines, as the Philippines faces another surge of COVID-19 infections.

Duterte said he will ask the US to let the country buy their excess supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, if they have any left.

"I am just asking America to give us more. Kung mayroon lang sila (Only iff they have). We know that mauna kami. Kami muna. We first before you. We understand it, and we accept it. But if there is an excess of supply, pakitulong naman dito sa bayan ko (please help our country). We have the money. We buy, we do not ask. We have saved money for this event," he said in a recorded public address aired late Monday.

Earlier this month, the Philippines received 3 million more COVID-19 shots from the US, prompting Duterte to tout the "strong and deep friendship" between the 2 countries, despite testy incidents during his term. 

Aside from the 3,000,060 Moderna jabs that arrived on August 3, the US also provided the Philippines with key medical supplies and equipment, and support to institutions.

The US is also the biggest contributor to the vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility, and has "facilitated the delivery of more than 13 million vaccines to the Philippines", according to US Embassy Charge d’ Affaires John Law. 

Duterte early in his term had announced a "separation" from the United States, Manila's only defense ally, as he "realigned" with China and agreed to resolve competing claims in the West Philippine Sea through talks. 

Last year, Duterte cancelled the Philippines' Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States after one of his allies was denied a US visa. 

But Duterte extended the pact's abrogation at least thrice and said in February the US must "pay" if it wanted to keep the pact. 

The VFA was fully restored late July.

As of August 15, the Philippines has fully vaccinated more than 12.5 million individuals, while over 15.2 million have received their first dose.

The government aims to inoculate 58 to 70 million in the country to achieve herd immunity and safely reopen the economy.