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

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021   •   488

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 not discuss issues on the West Philippine Sea.

During his Talk to the People public address 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.

Correction:
An earlier version of this article misstated that “they did discuss issues.” 

Duterte inaugurates Sariaya Bypass Road

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte has inaugurated the 7.42-kilometer long Sariaya Bypass Road in Quezon Province.

In a speech after unveiling the marker on the new road on Thursday, Duterte said the completion of the project affirms the administration’s “strong commitment to improve the quality of life of Filipinos by pursuing strategic infrastructure projects across the country thereby improving connectivity and mobility, creating jobs, and dispersing economic activity throughout the regions.”

“It will likewise spur the growth of industries and business opportunities in the area, thereby boosting the socio-economic development of Quezon Province and improve the lives of the people,” Duterte said.

“As we continue to overcome the current pandemic and carefully reopen our national and local economies, infrastructure development will play a vital role in our success,” he added.

The bypass road is seen to provide faster and safer travel for motorists and will also allow efficient transport of goods to and from the markets in Southern Luzon, the President said.

The road could also lessen the traffic volume along Daang Maharlika from Sariaya to Lucena City by 40 percent.

Stretching from the Manila South Road Daang Maharlika to the Quezon Eco-Tourism Road, the Sariaya Bypass Road is expected to cater to around 15,000 motorists and commuters daily going to the different provinces in the Southern Tagalog Region.

At the same time, it is seen to spur economic and social development through efficient transportation, improved road safety and enhanced business opportunities in Quezon Province.

The Sariaya Bypass Road is one of the flagship projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) under the administration’s Build, Build, Build Program.

Australia donates more oxygen concentrators to PH for COVID-19 patients

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has received another batch of oxygen concentrators from the Australian government as part of its continuing support to the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said.

In a statement, the NTF said the 100 oxygen concentrators arrived in Manila on Thursday.

The first batch of oxygen concentrators were delivered last August 28.

“Australia is increasing its commitment to the Philippines in terms of COVID-19 support, and we’re increasing our commitment by further [to] P433 million to make a grand total of P1.8 billion that Australia is donating to the Philippines,” Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson said during a press conference following the turn-over.

The NTF said the first batch of the medical equipment was distributed to 27 hospitals across the country.

According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, the donation is vital to the country’s clinical management of the country’s severe and critical COVID cases.

“This will go a long way in improving the quality of care that we provide our patients in the several hospitals that have been benefited by these pieces of equipment,” Duque added.

NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. thanked Australia for its compassion and generosity to the Filipino people.

“This life-saving oxygen concentrator will go a long way and a lot of people will be saved, thousands of them because of these concentrators,” Galvez said.

Aside from its donation of medical equipment and contribution to the COVAX facility, Australia, in partnership with UNICEF, will also provide over 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines.

The said vaccine donations are expected to arrive in the country by the fourth quarter of this year.

Brunei donates 2,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to PH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines— Around 2,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Brunei government to the Philippines  arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Wednesday.

The said shipment will be allotted for the vaccination of the general public, according to National Task Force against COVID-19 special adviser Dr. Teodoro Herbosa,

Herbosa expressed his gratitude to the government of Brunei on behalf of the Philippines for the vaccine donation.

As of October 20, a total of 91,548,620 COVID-19 vaccine doses from various manufacturers have arrived in the Philippines. AAC

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