By John Ezekiel J. Hirro

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 Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on March 15, 2021. KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte wants the country’s Covid-19 vaccination drive to go “mobile” to reach more areas and inoculate more people against the disease, he said in a televised address on Monday.

“Lahat kayo, lalo na ‘yong mga kababayan ko nandiyan sa squatters’ area, lahat kayo, huwag kayong matakot at hindi ko kayo iiwanan,” he said in a broadcast aired Monday night.

“That’s why I said, we are thinking of going mobile, kayo na ang pumunta, or if you are near the barangay, you just wait because ang order ko ngayon is for the team to give you the vaccine while traveling, at least mayroon,” he added.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that the country might start vaccinating its general public in mid-2021.

Duterte called on local government units to use all government assets, including vehicles, to expedite the inoculation program.

“Marami tayong sasakyan. We will use all government assets. Gamitin natin ang lahat ng sasakyan ng gobyerno. Lahat, lahat. Not necessarily from the department of sa DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government). Sa lahat. We must contribute and the other departments must take note of this,” the president said.

‘Maliit na bagay ito’

Duterte called on Filipinos to remain steadfast amid the Covid-19 pandemic, saying the country had been through worse.

“I will just say to my countrymen that do not despair. Kaya natin ito[ng] Covid na ito,” the president said as he was wrapping up his national address Monday night.

“Maliit na bagay ito sa buhay natin. Marami tayong dinaanan mas ano, mas grabe, mas mahirap,” he added.

Duterte said he did not want to see Filipinos gasping “bahala na” (whatever happens, happens) and he wanted the public to be hopeful amid the health crisis.

“Iyong magsabi ‘bahala na,’ it’s an indicative of a person who has lost hope. ‘Pag nangailangan ng tulong, nandiyan kami,” he said.

The country recorded a seven-month-high of 5,404 new Covid-19 infections on March 15, pushing the national total to 626,893.

Of the total, 53,479 are active cases.