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 in an address aired Friday tapped the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, saying he would not trust local officials to do the job.

“Sino ang magdala nito (vaccine)? Military lang. I am asking the Armed Forces. I am asking Gen. (Delfin) Lorenzana. May setup na, may task force na, pero the implementing arm (would be) the military,” Duterte said.

Multiple retired AFP generals, under Duterte’s administration, have been appointed to Cabinet positions and even Covid-19 task forces. These include Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., National Task Force against Covid-19 chief implementer, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who is also vice chairman of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who oversees the pandemic response in Cebu and Defense Secretary Lorenzana.

“I suggest that we let the military assign so many of the soldiers, and policemen. Punta lang kayo ng ospital, may mga military doon. Punta lang kayo ng police station, may mga pulis,” he said.

Duterte added that despite tasking the military to be in-charge of the distribution, nurses would still be the ones to administer the vaccines.

The government-funded vaccination will prioritize low and middle-income earners, the military and the police. John Ezekiel J. Hirro