President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses matters with Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque on the sidelines of the 22nd Cabinet Meeting at the Malacañan Palace on February 5, 2018. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

If the Philippines had a different president, its current vaccine situation would be different, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said on Friday.

In a speech during the launch of the vaccination drive in Davao City, Roque said the country would probably have no vaccines by now if President Rodrigo Duterte wasn’t president.

“Patuloy po akong nagpapasalamat dahil ipinahiram ninyo sa amin ang Presidente Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” Roque told the Davao crowd. “Kung hindi po ngayon ipinahiram sa bansang Pilipinas ng Davao ang ating presidente siguro po ngayon wala pa ring bakuna.”

Roque said the country’s friendships with China, Canada and the European Union developed under Duterte were substantial for it to receive vaccines.

“Kung tayo po ay nag-rely lamang po doon sa dati nating sinasandalan na bansa, hanggang ngayon po wala sana tayong natanggap dahil ngayon po ang mga bakuna natin galing China at galing po ng Europa,” he said.

“Sana po wala ng magdududa na tama po ang ginawang polisiya ng ating presidente dahil kung wala po itong polisiyang ito, wala nga pong bakuna ngayon,” he added.

The country has so far received 600,000 doses of CoronaVac vaccines from China and 487,200 doses of AstraZeneca from Covax. All were donations.

In a televised address on March 1, Duterte said he did not want to “grab the credit” for the donated vaccines.

“The credit is the Filipino people, inspired us to crank our grey matter between the ears how really can we muster a good plan,” he said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro