Malacañang on Tuesday assured the public that the government would follow through with its promise to provide free Covid-19 vaccines to the “poorest of the poor.”

Considering the vaccines’ prices, Palace spokesman Harry Roque affirmed they would remain free for 20 million Filipinos as earlier projected by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

“Iyan po ang pangako ng ating Presidente. Two doses of the vaccine to the 20 million poorest of the poor Filipinos, kasama na rin po ang mga frontliners at iyong mayroong mga sakit, comorbidities,” Roque said in a virtual briefing. 

According to Dominguez, the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines will finance the mass vaccination cost, which will be paid by the Department of Health over two to three years.

Roque said the government has yet to determine the number of vaccine doses to be bought from other countries.

“Hindi ko lang po alam kung ilan ang bibilhin galing sa Russia o ilan ang bibilhin sa iba’t-ibang parte ng daigdig. I guess that will depend later on po kung ready na talaga ang mga vaccines, kung ilan iyong magiging available din,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte in a public address on Monday said the country would be ready to take out loans and pay for Russia and China’s vaccines by installment if they are expensive.

“Bibilhin natin ‘yan, kaya lang kung mahal, if it is quite expensive, then I will ask my friends [President Vladimir Putin] and [President Xi Jinping] to give us credit line… parang utang,” he said.

“But we will pay. Not in one payment but by installment. Basta ang sinasabi ko magbayad tayo, hindi ito libre,” he added. John Ezekiel J. Hirro