MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday the COVID-19 vaccine that government will procure would also be available to communist rebels.
Earlier this month, Duterte had rejected the annual holiday ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing New People's Army (NPA).
"The vaccine is available to every Filipino citizen, including the communist NPAs. So that you can fight better, you are healthy because I know you will die 'pag hindi talaga kayo, mamamatay talaga kayo (if you don't receive it, you will really die)," he said in a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19.
"We will make available to you ito. In the name of humanity, we will not deny kasi ano yan eh. Just to make you healthy so that you will die 'pag hindi kayo naghinto sa (if you don't stop)—you stop."
In July, Duterte offered COVID-19 vaccines to NPA rebels if they stop fighting military troops until this month.
Food and Drug Administrator Eric Domingo said doctors and nurses cannot refuse to give the vaccine to NPA rebels.
"Pag pumunta po sa barangay health center, baka po 'di naman natin pwedeng i-turn away dahil 'yun pong ating mga doctor at nurse ay sumumpa sila na lahat ay gagamutin nila at bibigyan nila ng serbisyo," he said.
(If they go to the barangay health center, the doctors and nurses cannot really turn them away because they took an oath to heal and serve everyone.)
"Kung pumunta po siguro nang kusangloob, baka po kailangan bigyan din natin tulad ng ibang mamamayan."
(If they go there willingly, we might need to give them the vaccine like other citizens.)
The President on Saturday renewed his attack against Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, whom he accused of as a member of the CPP and financing his son's studies in Europe from "taxation" of the rebel group.
Zarate had said he was "always ready and willing to talk" if " it is for the benefit of the people."
"It has nothing to do with the interest of the people. It is a question which I would like to ask you, saan mo kinukuha ang pera (where do you get money) to finance the study of your son sa (in) Europe?" Duterte said.
"You are lying actually and because the money that you finance the study of your child is taxation. Ang taxation, ito ang mga loko-loko na you allow, nagpapagamit kayo sa mga tarantado na lider na ito."
(This taxation, these people are letting communist leaders take advantage of them.)
Communist leaders have justified their collection of the so-called "revolutionary tax" from companies and denied it is a form of extortion, saying "it is a function of the revolutionary government in providing services to the people under their influence."
Zarate has yet to respond to Duterte's latest allegation against him.
He and his fellow Makabayan lawmakers have denied being legal fronts of the CPP-NPA-NDF.