President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said the government would prioritize the procurement of vaccines from China and Russia which were “charitably” offered to the Philippines.

“[T]he only countries that offered to help initially and said, ‘Do not worry when we invent one, we’d give you’ was Russia then China…. The one good thing about China is you do not have to beg, you do not have to plead,” Duterte said during his public address. 

Duterte expressed dismay over Western countries requiring the payment of cash advances for their vaccines.

“They want cash advance bago tayo deliver-an ng vaccine. E kung ganun, patay tayong lahat. Every Filipino will die I can assure you. [Kung] walang vaccine, e di maghalikan na lang tayong lahat para mas madali,” he said.

“That’s one thing wrong about the Western countries — it’s all profit, profit, profit. There’s a pandemic and you say that, ‘Okay we have something for sale or something to sell to you.’ And marinig mo, maligaya ka only to collapse when the next sentence is said ‘pero magbayad kayo ng cash advance bago kami magpadala,’” he added.

Meanwhile, China and Russia have been charitable with their vaccine offers, Duterte said.

“Kaya sabi ko we will give preference to Russia and China provided that their vaccine is as good as any other in the market. It could be as good as ‘yung mga kompanyang sinabi nila, hindi ko sasabihin baka naman magpa-pa-advertise sila,” Duterte said.

Duterte said that under the government procurement law, payment for a non-existent or yet to be produced product is illegal.

“You want us to make a reservation by depositing money, you must be crazy. Bakit ako magbili nang ganung style? Because the Procurement Law of the Philippines, this country, does not allow you to buy something which is non-existent or to be produced as yet,” he explained.

The Department of Health earlier said it had reserved P2.4 billion for the procurement of a Covid-19 vaccine once one was made available.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez also said the poorest 20 million Filipinos would get the vaccine for free. John Ezekiel J. Hirro