500K more Sinovac doses to arrive in PH April 22

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021   •   220

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is set to receive Thursday 500,000 more doses of CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech.

The plane carrying the shipment is expected to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport around 5 p.m.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other officials will welcome the arrival of the vaccines procured by the government.

The arrival of the additional doses on Thursday would bring to 3,525,600 the number of COVID-19 vaccines, comprised of CoronaVac and AstraZeneca, that the Philippines has so far received.

Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana on Wednesday announced that another 500,000 vials of Sinovac vaccines are expected to arrive in Manila next week.

This is part of the commitment of Sinovac Biotech to deliver 1.5 million vaccine doses this month. The other 500,000 doses were shipped last April 11.

The Philippines is also expecting to receive this month at least 20,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines made by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute while additional AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses from the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX Facility may be delivered in May.

The WHO previously said that the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine doses for the Philippines has been delayed, and that it will be lesser in number than expected, due to a global supply shortage.

Once additional vaccine doses arrive in the country, the national government is eyeing to begin the inoculation of economic frontliners by May and to intensify the vaccination drive in other COVID-19 hotspots in the Philippines.

Over 193,000 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrive in Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech has been delivered in the Philippines.

The shipment arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 around 9 p.m. on Monday.

The initial batch of 193,050 doses of Pfizer vaccines was courtesy of the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX Facility.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the first shipment of Pfizer vaccines will serve as a logistical run to prepare for the arrival of additional Pfizer vaccine doses, which require storage temperature conditions of -70 degrees Celsius.

The Department of Health said this batch of Pfizer vaccines would be distributed to Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao, which have facilities capable of handling the product to avoid wastage.

These will be used on priority groups A1 (health workers), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (persons with co-morbidities).

The government hopes to get 1.3 million more Pfizer vaccines through the COVAX facility this May.

Pfizer-BioNTech is the fourth brand of vaccine against coronavirus disease that the Philippines received since the government rolled out its immunization program on March 1. Vaccine supplies from Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Gamaleya Institute have been delivered in the past weeks.

Duterte: I asked Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping for help on COVID-19 vaccines but no talks on WPS

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday disclosed that he asked help from his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines but insisted that they did discuss issues on the West Philippine Sea.

During his talk to the people on Monday night, Duterte recalled how he called Xi when the Philippines had yet to get any supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Let me just also say na itong history na… for public consumption na ito. Tumawag ako kay President Xi Jinping, sinabi ko kasi noong kasagsagan ng walang dumating talaga, walang makapkap si Secretary (Carlito) Galvez (Jr.), tumawag ako, sabi ko, ‘Mr. President (Xi), I would like to ask for your help until now Philippines is at a loss on how to get vaccines,’” he said.

“Sabi niya, ‘it’s okay we will help you.’ Ganoon lang. Hindi naman sinabi na kalimutan mo yung Scarborough Shoal, bigyan kita… Sinabi niya lang as simple as that,” he added.

The Philippines first received 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines that were donated by the Chinese government on February 28. The national government used this supply to roll out its vaccination program on March 1.

In total, the Philippines has received 1 million donated Sinovac vaccine doses from China, including the 400,000 doses that were delivered in March.

Duterte stood by his earlier statement that the Philippines owes a debt of gratitude to China for all its help but emphasized that there would be no compromise on the West Philippine Sea issue.

“It’s never, never wrong to say that I owe you a debt of gratitude. Totoo eh, binigyan tayo, tinanggap natin, ginamit natin,” he said.

“But it does not mean na tanggapin ko ang bakuna tapos sabihin ko kalimutan ko na yung claim diyan sa West Philippine sea, okay na yun dahil sa bakuna… It was never like that, the world does not operate like that,” he added.

He said there would be no compromise on the issue and that China knows it.

“Maski bahain tayo dito ng vaccine, gagamitin ko pa rin pero sabihin ko ‘hindi ito kabayaran’. Iba ito. This is a Philippine national interest, this is not a health issue that nagpasalamat ako,” he said.

Why did Duterte tap out of challenge to debate with Carpio?

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is not afraid of facing retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in a debate on issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte last week dared Carpio to square off on the loss of a Philippine territory during the Aquino administration, but later tapped out and instead delegated the task to his spokesperson, lawyer Harry Roque.

“What was in my mind when I challenged Carpio into a debate? Ang problema lang kasi dito nakalimutan ko na si Carpio hindi ang presidente – ako,” Duterte said in his weekly Talk to the People on Monday night.

Duterte said he had to back out of the challenge because anything he might say there could be construed as a “policy statement.”

“I might bind future actions of government pagdating dito sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.

“Pero dodoon ako sa kahon, it’s not because I am afraid of debates,” he added, saying that he had faced many debates with political rivals for the presidency in 2016.

“Hindi ako takot sa’yo, ang problema, hindi ko nga alam na hindi ka president,” he further said, addressing Carpio.

Duterte has blamed the previous administration over the loss of the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea following a standoff in 2012.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said that China “deceitfully breached” its agreement with the Philippines to withdraw the ships of both sides to end the standoff.

The Philippines then pursued an arbitral case against China in 2014. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2016 in favor of the Philippines and nullified China’s vast claims in the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte said he tried pursuing the arbitral ruling but nothing happened.

China has been ignoring the diplomatic protest that the Philippine government has repeatedly filed over the incursion of Chinese vessels in the contested waters.

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