President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on July 30, 2020. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed certainty that the country would be “back to normal” by December, citing progress in Chinese companies’ vaccine development.

“Meron akong bakuna. Ang hingin ko sa inyo ganito, magtiis lang kayo ng konti dahil nga sa hawaan,” he said during a taped address aired Friday morning.

Duterte said he was proud to having been “friendly” with China, as two Chinese firms, Sinopharm and Sinovac, had already reached the penultimate phase of clinical trials, which conducts large-scale testing on humans.

“Kaya ako saludo talaga sa China… We have remained friendly with China and China was able to guarantee that the Philippines would  [be given priority],” he said.

During his fifth State of the Nation Address, Duterte said he had reached out to Chinese President Xi Jinping to give the Philippines priority access to its vaccines once made available.

Duterte said his plea was heard and quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, who remarked: “Since the outbreak of Covid-19, China and the Philippines have been standing together with mutual assistance, turning anti-epidemic cooperation into a new highlight in bilateral relations.” 

“I promise you, by the grace of God, I hope by December we will be back to normal,” Duterte said.

Almost 90,000 Filipinos so far have contracted Covid-19, which originated from China. John Ezekiel J. Hirro