MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday defended putting Davao Region in the priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout by claiming that his hometown, Davao City, is the "largest city in the world."
According to Duterte, the Davao Regional Medical Center in Davao del Norte is the go-to hospital of almost all patients from the Davao Region, and even neighboring provinces outside the region.
"Now itong Davao Regional Medical Center, it caters to Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao Occidental, the ComValley, which is now known Davao de Oro, and it caters some people from itong boundary ng Cotabato na mas malayo ang Cotabato City to Davao City so dito na sila," Duterte said during his weekly public briefing.
(Now this Davao Regional Medical Center, it caters to Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao Occidental, the ComValley, which is now known Davao de Oro, and it caters to some people from the boundary of Cotabato who lives nearer to Davao City than to Cotabato City so they go to the hospital here.)
"Malaki ho ang Davao, it used to be the biggest city. Until now, Davao City is the biggest city in the world, I think, hanggang ngayon, and the population is, it's the melting pot of Region 11," he added.
(Davao is big, it used to be the biggest city. Until Now, Davao City is the biggest city in the world, I think, until today, and the population is, it's the melting pot.)
Duterte also boasted that Davao City is so big that one wouldn't be able to travel from its southernmost part to its northernmost part in one day.
"The Davao Region is not only Davao City but Davao City is as big as a province, that's why it's called the biggest city in the world," he claimed.
"If you go to the south side, you will not be able to go to the north side by sunset. That's how big it is to travel from one place to the other," Duterte also claimed.
A quick Internet search showed that the land area of Davao City is around 2,444 square kilometers, which is less than half the area of Forth Worth in Dallas (5,279 square kilometers), Philadelphia (5,430 square kilometers) or Washington, D.C. - Baltimore area (5,500 square kilometers), the cities that are named as the 10th largest cities by various websites.
According to Demographia's annual World Urban Areas, the largest city in the world by land area is New York City Metropolitan Area (12,093 square kilometers). By population, Tokyo is considered the biggest with 37.9 million residents, according to the United Nations 2018 estimates.
The Philippines on Sunday received its first vaccine supply, courtesy of China's donation of 600,000 shots from Beijing-based drug maker Sinovac Biotech. The government will transport some of these doses to Cebu on March 3, and Davao on March 5, said Galvez.
The country started its vaccination program with jabs from Beijing-based drug maker Sinovac Biotech on Monday, in hopes of an immediate return to normalcy as the country races to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Aside from the first official shipment of CoronaVac that arrived in the country, several government officials and members of the Presidential Security Group have already been vaccinated with smuggled Sinopharm vaccines.
This year, the country aims to inoculate 70 million of its 108 million people to achieve herd immunity and reopen an economy that in 2020 saw its worst contraction on record, due largely to tight restrictions on movement in place since mid-March.
Galvez earlier said the government is eyeing to vaccinate 1.7 million health workers this March.
Despite having among the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Asia, the Philippines is the last Southeast Asian country to receive its initial set of vaccines.
The vaccination program will be crucial for Philippine efforts to revive its economy, which suffered a record 9.5 percent slump last year due to strict and lengthy lockdowns that hit consumer spending and saw big job losses.