President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday promised that the government would prioritize the “poorest of the poor” in the Philippines for the COVID-19 immunization program, once a vaccine becomes available.
“Ang mauna, ‘yung walang wala at saka of course those in the hospitals, ‘yung mga sick or dying. Ang una talaga ‘yung mga tao sa listahan na tumatanggap ng assistance sa gobyerno,” Duterte said.
[We will prioritize the poorest of the poor, and those who are sick and dying in hospitals. The priority is really those who accept aid from the government.]
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government may be able to provide vaccines for free for the 20 million poorest people in the country.
The finance chief added that at least 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines can be purchased by the government with the help of the Philippine International Trading Corp and financed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.
Middle-income earners, police officers, and soldiers would also be eligible for free COVID-19 immunization, the President said.
“Pangalawa, ‘yung middle-income. Libre ito. Hindi ko ito ipagbili,” Duterte said.
[Second is the middle income. This is for free. I won’t sell it.]
Duterte also assured the “backbone of his administration”, the military and police forces, that they will be prioritized in the COVID-19 immunization program.
“Itong mga military na ito pobre ‘to. Mauna rin kayo. And also my military and my police because I need a strong backbone. The backbone of my administration is the uniformed personnel of government,” he added.
[The military is poor. You will also be prioritized.]
The President apologized to well-off Filipinos, saying they should purchase their own vaccines.
“Itong mga mayaman, huwag na ninyo akong isipin kasi hindi ako nag-iisip sa inyo. Sorry na lang,” he said.
[To the rich, don’t think of me because I don’t think of you. I’m sorry.]
Duterte said he expects things to return to normal by December as he expressed hopes that China could come up with a vaccine by then.