Malacañang on Monday said some high-ranking government officials could receive the first doses of Covid-19 vaccines to alleviate the public’s fears, but said those who would do so should also be ready to receive criticism that they got the “VIP treatment.”

“Kung mayroon pong ilang mga matataas na opisyales na nais na magpaturok para magsilbing halimbawa na wala naman pong masamang epekto sa kanila ang bakuna, we welcome that,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a virtual presser.

“Pero gaya ng aking sinabi po, tandaan ninyo ‘pag nangyari iyan, iyong oposisyon sasabihin na naman mayroong VIP treatment,” he added.

Roque made the statement after Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go challenged Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and vaccine czar Carllito Galvez Jr. to ensure the vaccines’ safety by receiving the anti-Covid shots.

“I’m challenging Secretary Galvez, once available na po ‘yung safe na vaccine, ipapakita niya, along with Secretary Duque, sila po ang unang magpapaturok ng vaccine to encourage naman po [mga tao],” Go said in a Laging Handa briefing over the weekend.

Duque said he would “definitely” volunteer to receive the vaccines.

“That is a no brainer. Sure. No problem…as long as it has undergone scientific evaluation of the Department of Science and Technology’s vaccine experts panel, the ethics board review and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), which will conduct its own regulatory assessment,” Duque told the ABS-CBN News Channel.

The Philippines’ vaccination roadmap approved by President Rodrigo Duterte would prioritize poor Filipinos, healthcare workers and state forces.

The country has 441,319 Covid-19 cases as of Dec. 7. John Ezekiel J. Hirro