PRESIDENT Duterte must have been carried away by the magnanimous gesture of China, the first country from which the Philippines sourced its initial 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine — donated even and not bought. The President waxed emotional in thanking the donor, and even said that he wanted to make a short trip to China to personally shake the hand of its leader, President Xi Jinping, and express his gratitude. Secretary Carlito Galvez, beside the President, said he was teary-eyed at the sight of the vaccines being unload from a Chinese aircraft, like a czar contemplating the crown that he is about to wear.
While the Chinese-made vaccines from Sinovac Biotech signaled the start of the rollout of the government’s vaccination program, our health and security authorities were still dishing out the same kind of alibis and “sorry” messages for the delay of European-made AstraZeneca vaccines, saying Filipinos have to wait for another week to get their hands at these shots.
‘The nation is reaping the gains of its friendship and warm ties with its neighbors…’
President Duterte’s happiness and jubilation prompted him to declare that these vaccines — product of international scientists and financiers — are actually a joint achievement of mankind’s intellect and survival instinct, aside from strong cooperation that knows no borders.
He said, “I said it before and I will say it again. COVID-19 vaccines should be treated as a global public good and made available to all rich and poor alike. No nation, no people, should be left to suffer the ravages of this pandemic for whatever reason. At the end of the day, as repeatedly said, no one is safe until everyone is safe.”
Duterte’s message is that countries must therefore continue working together and do everything humanly possible to ensure the survival of — and a bright future for — the human race.
Quite coincidentally, China President Xi has a similar take on mankind’s development of this very indispensable panacea aimed at ending the pandemic. He called on closer solidarity and cooperation, more information sharing and a stronger global response against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nation is reaping the gains of its friendship and warm ties with its neighbors, as even Australia is offering cash and logistical support in transporting the bulk of the forthcoming vaccine doses to the farthest barangays in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. From March 2020 to present, the United States (USAID, Department of Defense and State Department) has given the Philippines some $22.6 million or P1 billion in assistance specifically to fight the pandemic.
It seems Duterte’s friend-to-all, enemy-to-no-one independent foreign policy is delivering the goods especially in this time of our public health crisis.