MANILA - Once the COVID-19 vaccine is available and ready for distribution in the Philippines, soldiers and the police should be among those given priority to be inoculated, President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday night.
Duterte in a public briefing, echoed his past statements for prioritizing police and military personnel when the country's vaccination starts, which may happen in May 2021.
"I need a healthy military and police kasi kapag magkasakit lahat 'yan, wala na ako maasahan, wala tayo mautusan," said the President, who heavily leans on retired military and police officers to lead government agencies.
Duterte called for understanding, saying the uniformed personnel are the "errand boys" of the public, citing their recent rescue efforts after consecutive typhoons barreled through the country.
"Kita naman ninyo 'yung baha sa Luzon. Kita ninyo military, Coast Guard, lahat na pumupunta doon, at pulis. And then they have to take care of the law and order situation. Huwag na ninyo masyado pahirapan 'yung pulis, wala naman kayong gawin. Matulog na lang kayo kaysa mag-inuman diyan tas magkagulo," he said.
Vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Philippines may start rolling out COVID-19 vaccines to the public by May next year.
The government is looking to place an advance procurement of about 24 million vaccines within the first quarter of next year, said Galvez. The initial batch of vaccines will be for frontliners, indigents, and the vulnerable sectors, he said.
Last July, Duterte tapped the Philippine military as the "implementing arm" of the country's coronavirus immunization program, once the vaccine becomes available.