President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said New People’s Army (NPA) rebels would be given Covid-19 vaccines but only excess ones.

In his “Talk to the People” address that aired on Tuesday morning, the president said he was willing to give rebels vaccines as long as they did not interfere with rehabilitation efforts in typhoon-hit areas.

“Ngayon, pagka may sobra—kung may sobra lang, hindi kayo puwedeng unahin [dahil] kalaban kayo sa gobyerno—tingnan lang ninyo at kung may sobra…tawagan ninyo na muna ako na kung may sobra, ibigay ninyo sa NPA para hindi ma-Covid-19,” Duterte said.

The president has been willing to inoculate NPA rebels against Covid-19 since even before vaccines arrived in the Philippines in February 2021.

In August 2020, Duterte said rebels could line up at vaccination sites and receive vaccines as long as they were not armed.

But he has also repeatedly made shoot-to-kill orders against armed rebels, saying he was even ready to go to jail if it meant purging insurgency in the country.

Based on the national Covid-19 vaccination dashboard, the Philippines has over 53 million fully vaccinated and 58 million partially vaccinated individuals. John Ezekiel J. Hirro